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Vienna Migration Conference 2019 initiates discussion on the most critical issues in migration policy

25 November 2019

From 21-22 November, ICMPD hosted the Vienna Migration Conference for the fourth time. Entitled "Breaking the gridlock and moving forward: recommendations for the next five years of EU migration policy" the conference aimed to progress the dialogue on migration policy in the next 5 years. The conference took place at the Aula of Sciences in Vienna and hosted 5 ministers and a record-number of participants.

The conference was opened by ICMPD Director General, Michael Spindelegger, who spoke of the importance of bringing together, and giving a platform to voices from Europe and its neighbourhood to discuss the most pressing issues in migration. "In view of the European elections we have devoted our own defining views of what should happen in the next phase in the European migration policy making. In line with the this year’s Vienna Migration Conference, we have called our programme "breaking gridlocks and moving forward." He introduced ICMPD’s 70 migration policy recommendations for the new European Commission, which acted as the background to all discussions.

The conference was traditionally opened with a high-level political level and the discussion focused on the priorities and goals for sustainable and comprehensive European migration responses. It included: Mr Péter Szijjártó, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary Hon Carmelo Abela, Minister, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Malta Mr İsmail Çataklı, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Interior, Turkey Mr Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy, Ministry of Citizen Protection, Greece Ms Cláudia Pereira, State Secretary for Integration and Migration, Ministry of State and Presidency, Portugal Ms Nina Gregori, Executive Director, European Asylum Support Office. The evening culminated in a reception hosted by Mr Jürgen Czernohorszky, Executive City Councillor for Education, Integration, Youth and Personnel of Vienna on behalf of the Mayor of Vienna. 

Breaking internal gridlocks and moving forward 

The second day of the conference was opened by Director General Michael Spindelegger and ICMPD Deputy Director General and Director of Policy, Research and Strategy, Mr Lukas Gehrke. Mr Wolfgang Peschorn, Federal Minster, Federal Ministry of Interior, Austria gave a speech. Mr Ilkka Salma, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Interior of Finland,  gave a speech on "EU migration policy priorities of Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU". The first panel on the 22nd November went on to discuss the instruments needed for a comprehensive European migration governance system. Panellists included: Ambassador Vincenzo Mascioli, Director, International Cooperation Directorate, State Secretariat for Migration, Switzerland Ms Alexandra Wilton Wahren, Director General for Legal Affairs, Migration and Asylum, Ministry of Justice, Sweden Mr Daan Huisinga, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General International Migration, Ministry of Justice and Security, The Netherlands Ms Jessica Däbritz, Head of Directorate, Directorate for Migration, Refugees, European Harmonisation, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Germany Mr Georg Kapsch, President, Federation of Austrian Industries Ms Laura Corrado, Head of Unit, Legal Pathways and Integration, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission. Mr Mark Schieritz, Political Correspondent, Die Zeit, commented on the discussion. The panel was moderated by Mr Ralph Genetzke, Head of the ICMPD Brussels Mission. 

Sustainable migration partnerships

The final panel of the conference focused on Europe, its neighbourhood and migration routes and discussed ways in which sustainable migration partnerships can be formed. Ms Sedef Dearing, Head of the Budapest Process, Secretariat and Regional Coordinator for the Silk Routes region at ICMPD, moderated this panel. Natasha Bertaud, Deputy Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission provided a commentary on this roundtable. Natasha Bertaud, Deputy Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission provided a commentary on this roundtable. The panel included: Mr Peter Webinger, Director General, Directorate-General for Migration, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Austria Mr Amr El Sherbini, Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Refugees, Migration and Combatting Trafficking in Persons , Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt Ms Ece Özbayoğlu Acarsoy, Deputy Director General, Deputy Directorate General for Immigration Asylum and Visa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey Mr Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service Mr Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, Regional Representative of the UNHCR The panel was followed by a discussion concerning best practices for charting the way forward for migration policies with Ms. Natasha Bertaud, Deputy Chief Spokesperson, European Commission and Marta Foresti, Human Mobility Initiative, Overseas Development Institute, which was moderated by ICMPD’s Mr Martijn Plum, Director of Migration Dialogues and Co-operation. 


This year also saw the introduction of five roundtables, which complemented the conference and focused on different areas of migration. These included "Geopolitical Outlook: Migration trends and regional responses", "Getting to a credible narrative on migration and migration policies", "The Way Forward on Skills Shortages and the Global Competition for Talent", "Secondary Movements – Dimension, Motives & Possible Solutions" and "A complementary migration research agenda, quo vadis for the next five to ten years?". Each roundtable hosted experts from the field of migration and aimed to facilitate in-depth dialogue on specific migration topics.

The conference also offered its participants the opportunity to explore the diversity of ICMPD’s migration expertise with a number of information stands and desks. In addition, this year, for the first time ICMPD hosted five senior-level roundtables at the forefront of the conference. 

With its record number of visitors, high-level participants and the addition of the roundtable events, the Vienna Migration Conference has become a significant platform for continuous informal and open dialogue between different actors in the migration sphere. The outcomes of the event will be shared in a conference publication which shall be released by the beginning of 2020.


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