Enhancing cooperation among the Prague Process states

The Prague Process Webinar ‘Which Perspectives for Labour Migration Partnerships in the Prague Process region? Lessons from EU funded Pilot Projects on Legal Migration’ with Mr Marco Funk, International Relations Officer, International Strategy Unit of DG HOME, European Commission, Mr Mario Lelovsky, Director of the Digital Coalition Slovakia, and Ms Diana Stefanescu, Project Specialist – Labour Migration, ICMPD, took place on 15 April 2021.

The webinar shed light on the EU’s past and future engagement and planning for labour migration initiatives with partner countries. Speakers presented key lessons learned from EU funded labour mobility initiatives, provided a general overview of the European Commission’s new Talent Partnerships concept announced in the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, and outlined the next steps envisaged for their operationalization. The webinar also highlighted plans for the first EU-funded labour mobility pilot project to be implemented in the Eastern Partnership region.

You may watch the recording in English or in Russian.

The Prague Process Repository contains video recordings of all past webinars and policy talks.

The new issue of the Prague Process Quarterly Review covers the first quarter of 2021. 

Since 2013, this tool provides the latest updates about the Process and highlights relevant migration-related developments in the region.

As announced by the Czech Minister of the Interior in March 2021, the coming 1,5 years shall focus on the formulation of the Prague Process’ political mandate for the period 2023-2027. The various changes witnessed across the Prague Process region over the past decade require comprehensive, innovative solutions and continuous dialogue among the participating states. This is equally confirmed by the most recent developments observed in the first quarter of 2021, covered by this issue of the Quarterly Review.

The defining characteristic of the transnational market for human smuggling is the agentive choice by migrants to purchase services in order to facilitate their transportation across state borders. This broad definition includes a large variety of transactions between migrants and actors performing distinct roles, based on the nuances of diverse local dynamics. The new analytical report authored by Andrew Fallone applies a critical lens to the impact of counter-smuggling policies, in order to enable governments to set better-informed policy priorities. It is important that policymakers do not approach regulating human smuggling exclusively through the lenses of criminality, security, and law enforcement. Although human smuggling services are purchased through informal markets that infringe on national laws, these informal markets share many characteristics with other legal economic activities. A narrow focus on the criminal nature of the human smuggling industry would problematically draw policymakers’ attention away from understanding how the laws and regulations that they enact influence the lived experiences of migrants. By expanding this focus, this analytical report aims to provide government actors with a tool for understanding the nuances of the human smuggling market and the full effects of potential counter-smuggling policies.

The Prague Process Webinar 'Implications of the Covid-19 Crisis for Mobile Care Workers in Europe' with Ms Mădălina Rogoz, Researcher at ICMPD, and Mr Bernhard Perchinig, ICMPD’s Senior Researcher, took place on 11 March 2021.

The webinar introduced the different types of long-term care regimes in Europe and discussed the relevance of migration and mobility for long-term care provision. Using the example of Austria, it also addressed the challenges posed by existing regulations and the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on mobile care workers. While the pandemic highlighted the relevance of care workers in the many EU Member States, it also deepened the inequalities and dependencies already existing in transnational care arrangements. The case of Romanian and Slovak live-in carers in Austria underlined the need to better balance the interests of sending and receiving countries in the field of long-term care in Europe.

You may watch the recording in English or in Russian.

Since 2014, Turkey has been hosting the largest number of refugees worldwide. Traditionally a country of origin and transit, it quickly transformed into a major destination country due to regional crises situations, such as the armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the situation of the 3,6 million Syrians under temporary protection have dominated the Turkish migration policy debate. While the number of refugee and migrant arrivals to Turkey decreased in the first half of 2020, it remained continuously high for the Western Balkan countries, where the implemented border closures and travel restrictions further resulted in a magnitude of stranded migrants and an intensification of smuggling activities.

The new ICMPD's Regional Migration Outlook for Turkey and the Western Balkans briefly summarises the key migration and policy trends observed in 2020 and provides an outlook on the main developments to watch out for in 2021.

You may access the Outlook in English here.

On 26 March, the State Commission on Migration Issues of Georgia (SCMI) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) held the international conference titled New Models of Migration Management System: Impact of VLAP Implementation in Georgia’. Organised by the EU-funded Project “Sustaining Migration Management in Georgia” (ENIGMMA 2), together with the European Migration Network (EMN), the conference brought together representatives of the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries.

A survey carried out in 2020 saw the issue of return and reintegration emerging as the top policy priority of Prague Process states. Aiming to reflect this finding, the Prague Process Secretariat at ICMPD invited Frontex to take part in a webinar on return and reintegration that was organised on 4 March.

The webinar attracted nearly 200 participants from over 30 countries, various EU bodies and international organisations. It featured interventions of experts from the European Centre of Return at Frontex who provided an overview of the centre’s role and activities.

Frontex experts spoke about the agency’s pre-return support, including identification, deployments of European Return Liaison Officers (EURLO), as well as various digital tools used by Frontex for the management of return cases and statistical reporting at EU level.

On 17 March 2021, the ICMPD Director General Mr. Michael Spindelegger and the Chief of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Vusal Huseynov signed the Seat Agreement between ICMPD and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The long-lasting history of cooperation with the migration and border authorities of Azerbaijan was formalised by signing a Cooperation Agreement with the Government back in June 2006 and progress with cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral formats. Azerbaijan is an active participating state of the Budapest Process and the Prague Process, which allows for exchanging of priorities and best practices between state migration authorities.

Since 2014, the number of Ukrainian labour migrants moving to the European Union (EU) has increased significantly. In 2019 alone, Ukrainian nationals received 660,000 residence permits for remunerated activities across the member states – the largest external labour force in the EU. The reliance of member state economies on workers from Ukraine has thus reached significant levels, as exemplified by the labour shortage seen during the COVID-19 crisis that forced the EU to shut down its borders.

While Ukrainian labour migration to the EU produces economic benefits on both sides, the exchange is beset by multiple challenges. These include limited protection of Ukrainian labour migrants, circumvention of work permit rules, and attempts by unscrupulous actors to lure Ukrainians into accepting precarious or non-existent jobs. This report assesses these challenges and their implications, before providing a set of targeted solutions, ranked according to a Feasibility Score. The proposed solutions range from establishing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information provision and a joint employment database for non-EU nationals, to launching negotiations on amending the legislation on work permits.