Enhancing cooperation among the Prague Process states

The Final Workshop of the Pilot Project 5 on Illegal migration in Bucharest was hosted by the Ministry of Interior of Romania on 24-25 of February 2016 and gathered representatives of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, and representatives of the IOM and ICMPD.

The 2nd Seminar of Pilot Project 7, which took place in Brussels on 17-19 of February 2016,  gathered representatives of Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Luxemburg, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as various experts, representatives of the European Commission, UNHCR, ECRE and ICMPD.

Representatives of the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) and the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) as the leading states authorities of the Pilot Project 7  opened the event, underlining the importance of training in view of the significant flows of asylum seekers received at present. Both states reported on the substantial increase in the number of staff and the resulting need for in-house training. In this context, countries can certainly benefit from the experience of other states.

From the 12th to the 13th of February 2016, in the framework of Objective 2, the Prague Process Secretariat organised a Prague Process National Contact Points’ meeting on the Knowledge base, data collection and analysis. Hosted by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria, the meeting took place in Sofia, Bulgaria, and gathered participants from 26 states, the European Commission Representation in Sofia and Frontex, as well as the ICMPD, the OSCE and the UNHCR.

The Prague Process Senior Officials’ Meeting, being at the same time the second preparatory SOM for the 3rd Ministerial Conference in October 2016, took place in Prague on 7-8 December 2015, gathering participants from 30 states, the European Commission Directorate General for Home Affairs (DG HOME) and Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), the Council of the European Union, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex, as well as ICMPD, IOM and UNHCR.

The third Workshop of the Pilot Project 5 on Establishing Identity and/or Nationality of Irregular migrants took place in Warsaw on 17 of November 2015 and gathered representatives of the 18 Prague Process participating states, as well as representatives of Frontex and the Prague Process Secretariat.

During the workshop participants exchanged the best practices on the return of migrants without a stay permit. The meeting was opened with a presentation on Multicultural aspects in establishing/confirming identity/nationality of migrants. The importance of the training courses, where not only the country of origin information but also other cultural issues are studied, was underlined. The activities raising awareness of cultural differences of the officers directly working with migrants were mentioned, while the expertise of Poland in this regard was used as a good practice.

The PP6 Study Visit was hosted by the Immigration and Border Service (SEF) of Portugal and gathered representatives of nine states – Albania, Armenia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo , Kyrgyzstan and Moldova.

During its visit to the SEF Headquarters in Lisbon the delegation was shortly introduced to its main duties and responsibilities, as well as to the national legal framework on migration. With regards to international students, the SEF is responsible for the issuance of visas and residence permits, as well as their possible extension. Seeking to strike a balance between security issues and the practical needs of incoming students, the Portuguese Law entitles foreign students and graduates to take up employment. In 2012, SEF ratified a Protocol with Portuguese Universities in order to facilitate administrative procedures and thus promote the mobility and integration of foreign students.

The 2nd Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the Almaty Process took place in Astana, Kazakhstan on 22 September 2015. The meeting was organized by the Chair of the Almaty Process, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and focused on Labour Migration Opportunities and Challenges in Central Asia, Addressing Solutions for Migrants and Refugees.

The 2,5-day seminar  was attended by representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Georgia, Germany, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine, as well as the three PP7 experts, UNHCR and ICMPD.  

The focus of the seminar was on training in asylum and international protection law and more specifically on Refugee status and Inclusion, as well as the five Convention grounds of the 1951 Refugee Convention with a special focus on membership of particular social groups. Presentations were complemented by interactive sessions and discussion of fictive asylum cases within working groups. Participants were introduced to the evolution of asylum law through jurisprudence and case law of national and other courts.