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Vienna Migration Conference 2018 hosts a record number of over 500 high-level participants

31 October 2018

High-level opening panel of the Vienna Migration Conference 2018

From 18 - 19 October the Vienna Migration Conference took place for the third time. Under the title “From Crisis Management to Future Governance”, the conference tackled two of the most debated issues of recent years: “Reforming Refugee Protection” and “Skilled Migration”. Held in the Aula of Sciences in Vienna, the conference hosted 30 ministers and ambassadors and a total of 500 participants.

The Conference was opened by the Director General of ICMPD, Mr Michael Spindelegger, followed by Austrian Minister Mr Gernot Blümel of the Federal Chancellery for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media. “All sides have to work together on migration issues, all sides have interests that must be reflected, that all sides must benefit from the partnerships and all areas of migration governance must have their place in these partnerships” said Mr Spindelegger. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy addressed the audience via a video message, stressing the importance of international cooperation and partnerships within the EU and beyond: “I believe that together we can show that walls are not the answer, partnership is the only way forward”. Aside from the 3 panel discussions, this year’s conference also offered a number of information stands for conference visitors and eight different side-events.

The high-level political panel on 18 October included H.E. Mark Harbers, Minister for Migration, Ministry of Justice and Security, the Netherlands, H.E. Eduardo Cabrita, Minister of Home Affairs, Portugal, H.E. Stephan Mayer, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Germany, H.E. Faizullah Zaki Ibrahimi, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Afghanistan, H.E. Yavuz Selim Kıran, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey, H.E. Adel Jarbouï, Secretary of State in charge of Migration and Tunisians living abroad, Ministry of Social Affairs, Tunisia, H.E. Emilia Saiz, Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments. The evening culminated in a reception hosted by Mayor and Governor Dr Michael Ludwig with the City of Vienna as one of the sponsoring partners. The other sponsors of the Vienna Migration Conference 2018 were: Raiffeisen Bank International, PricewaterhouseCoopers and The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

Global Compact for Migration

The 19 October was dedicated to two main panel discussions, Reforming Refugee Protection and Skilled Migration. In his opening words, ICMPD Director Policy, Research and Strategy, Lukas Gehrke said: “Making progress in these topics will bring us a good step closer to overcoming the crisis mode and towards a sustainable migration governance system”. He was succeeded by Mr Jonathan Prentice, Chief of Office of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, United Nations who spoke about the current status of the Global Compact on Migration and the ideas surrounding its provision.

Reforming Refugee Protection

The panel on reforming refugee protection was moderated by ICMPD Head of Policy, Malin Frankenhaeuser. Panellists included Ms Nina Gregori, Director General, Internal Administrative Affairs, Migration and Naturalisation Directorate, Ministry of Interior, Slovenia, Mr Peter Webinger, Deputy Director General for Asylum, Migration, Citizenship, Civil Status and Human Rights, Federal Ministry of Interior, Austria, H.E. Pascal Teixeira da Silva, Ambassador of France in charge of Migration, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France, Ms Ece Özbayoğlu Acarsoy, Deputy Director General, Deputy Directorate General for Immigration, Asylum and Visa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey, Mr Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director General, Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, Ms Grainne O’Hara, Director, Division of International Protection, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms Elizabeth Collett, Special Adviser to the Director General, International Organization for Migration.

Skilled Migration

The third and concluding panel of the conference focused on the topic of “Skilled Migration” and was moderated by ICMPD’s Head of Brussels Mission, Ralph Genetzke. On the panel was Ms Cornelia Lüthy, Vice Director, Head of Immigration and Integration Directorate, State Secretariat for Migration, Switzerland, Mr Alexander Wilhelm, Managing Director International Relations, International and Specialised Services, Federal Employment Agency, Germany, Mr Matthias Oel, Director, Directorate B - Migration, Mobility and Innovation, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, Mr Martin Ruhs, Chair in Migration Studies and Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Centre, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Mr Jean-Christophe Dumont, Head of the International Migration Division, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mr Alfred Höhn, Leader Government & Public Sector, Europe and EMEA, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Discussions focused on EU policy surrounding migration, labour needs in the EU and pilot projects and their obstacles and successes.

With its record number of visitors and high-level participants, the Vienna Migration Conference has become a significant platform for continuous informal and open dialogue between different actors in the migration sphere. The outcomes will be shared in a conference publication to be released by the beginning of 2019.


A photo gallery of the Vienna Migration Conference 2018 can  be found here.

See the Vienna Migration Conference page for more information.