On 24 November 2021, ICMPD organised the senior expert roundtable “More, better or it does not matter? The promise of legal pathways as a means to reduce irregular migration” to discuss linkages between regular and irregular migration and implications for migration policy. The meeting brought together senior experts and practitioners from EU and ICMPD Member States, public institutions, academia and think tanks.
Migration dialogues are successful tools to foster governmental discussions and enhance inter-state dialogue in the current debate on migration policy issues. They also contribute to the reinforcement of international migration cooperation, which facilitates the development of regional (European) and global concepts and systems for more manageable migration.
In various forms, ICMPD is tasked with support and secretariat functions for several migration dialogues, connecting Europe, its Eastern neighbours and Asia (Budapest Process and Prague Process on the one hand, and Europe, Africa and the Middle East (MTM Dialogue, EUROMED Migration IV, Rabat Process and Khartoum Process) on the other. Each migration dialogue has its own operative framework, agenda and thematic priorities, as well as geographic coverage and participation.
The Budapest Process
The Budapest Process is an interregional dialogue on migration stretching from Europe to the Silk Routes region - also covering Europe's Eastern neighbours, the Western Balkans and Central Asia. It provides a platform for dialogue and operational cooperation for over 50 governments and 10 international organisations.
During its more than 25 years of operation, the Budapest Process has built up a far-reaching network among participating states and wide thematic coverage. The dialogue is known and valued in the regions it involves and the methodology used is well trusted. The unbinding nature, the setting of trust as well as fostering of an equal level principle, have made it possible to achieve cooperation, also on sensitive issues. The Budapest Process also offers a platform for learning and training between peers as well as for facilitating concrete project development and cooperation.
The Prague Process
The Prague Process is a targeted migration dialogue promoting migration partnerships among the countries of the European Union, Schengen Area, Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans, Central Asia, Russia and Turkey. The Process originated from the EU financed project “Building Migration Partnerships”, and was launched at the 1st Prague Process Ministerial Conference (back then “Building Migration Partnerships”), culminating in the signature of the Prague Process Joint Declaration in April 2009.
The participating states thereby agreed to strengthen co-operation in migration management, following a comprehensive, balanced, pragmatic and operational approach, and respecting the rights and human dignity of migrants and their family members, as well as of refugees.
The Prague Process Action Plan 2012-2016, adopted during the 2nd Ministerial Conference in 2011, set out the following thematic areas for cooperation:
- Preventing and fighting illegal migration;
- Readmission, voluntary return and sustainable reintegration;
- Legal migration with a special emphasis on labour migration;
- Integration of legally residing migrants;
- Migration, mobility and development;
- Strengthening capacities in the area of asylum and international protection.
All six cooperation areas mirror the objectives of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM), being the overarching framework of the EU external migration and asylum policy. In 2015, an evaluation of the Prague Process Action Plan implementation concluded that the Prague Process had significantly contributed to enhancing international cooperation on migration in the region.
The current phase of the Prague Process is shaped by the Bratislava Ministerial Declaration, endorsed at the 3rd Prague Process Ministerial Conference in September 2016. Confirming the validity of the Prague Process Action Plan, participating states provided the Process with a mandate for the period 2017-2021.
From 2012 to 2017, the “Prague Process Targeted Initiative (PP TI)” was implemented. This initiative was led by Poland together with Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden. These states also took the lead of the various pilot projects and supported the Prague Process financially on an ad-hoc basis.
In 2017, the single-state leadership of the Process was transformed into the collective leadership by the Strategic Group, which is currently composed of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, the ongoing EU Presidency, the European Commission and ICMPD, hosting the Prague Process Secretariat. In 2018, the Strategic Group will be chaired by the Czech Republic. The Senior Officials of all participating states continue to represent the decisive body of the Prague Process.
As of January 2018, the Prague Process is being implemented through the Prague Process: Dialogue, Analyses and training in Action (PP DATA) initiative, representing the Strand C of the Mobility Partnership Facility 2, for a period of 36 months.
More information can be found on the Prague Process Website.
EUROMED Migration V
EUROMED Migration V is a programme funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). It supports EU Member States and the European Neighbourhood Instrument Southern Partner Countries (ENI SPCs) in establishing a comprehensive, constructive and operational dialogue and co-operation framework on migration, with a particular focus on reinforcing instruments and capacities to develop and implement evidence-based migration policies.
EMM5 builds upon the results of its first four phases (2004-2020) and tailors its activities around facilitating effective North-South and South-South regional dialogues and cooperation within the thematic areas identified in the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM): legal migration, irregular migration, migration and development and international protection in addition to cross cutting topics such as migration governance and communication on migration.
EMM5 aims to foster rights-based migration governance systems by consolidating and expanding cooperation between European Neighbourhood Instrument South Partner Countries and European Union Member States (EU MS) as well as among ENI SPCs themselves. It sets out to do so through three distinct yet complementary components, aligned and integrated to enhance and reinforce one another, namely: Dialogue, Knowledge and Communications:
• The Dialogue and Cooperation:
This component builds upon the consultations and momentum generated through the 16-year dialogue platform of EUROMED Migration, addressing the need to reinforce and improve cooperation between relevant stakeholders in the field of migration. The thematic priorities of the Dialogue component will be devised in consultation with participating states to ensure their relevance and added value.
• The Knowledge management and development:
This component serves to inform the priorities identified through the Dialogue component in order to foster a sound evidence basis for further exchange. The accrued results will reinforce the knowledge and data improvement to serve the priorities of migration governance. The Knowledge component aims to provide stakeholders with a flexible tool to leverage migration research as a mean to consolidate evidence-based policy-making and, as a result, create an enabling environment for adequate and sustainable responses to identified migration issues.
• The Communications and Narrative on migration:
This component aims to promote a balanced migration narrative in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Taking stock of the migration debate’s highly divisive nature, this component seeks to restore favourable conditions for pragmatic and cognisant policy choices. To this end, a range of influential stakeholders will be engaged, such as migration practitioners, communicators and journalists, to advocate for a more balanced and nuanced discussion on migration’s various realities. The Communications component will contribute to attenuate polarisation and generate an enabling environment for migration policy-making.
Together, these three components contribute to reinforcing the coherence, operational scope and resilience of cooperation on migration in the Euro-Mediterranean region as well as to enlarge the common base of national governance systems. As a result, through exchange and enhanced coordination, the potential for conflictual and/or inconsistent policy-making will be significantly reduced. Importantly, the capacity of ENI SPCs and EU MS to manage and address migration challenges, and the intersectionality between their roles as places of origin, transit and destination of migration will be enhanced. This will bring about an increased capacity to reap the benefits and social outcomes of people’s mobility throughout the region.
In addition to the 27 EU Member States, the following South partner countries are participants of EUROMED Migration V:
• Palestine *
* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
Since its inception in 2002, ICMPD has hosted the Secretariat of the informal and intergovernmental MTM Dialogue. Anchored to ICMPD’s Southern Dimension, the MTM Dialogue is a flexible, technical, consultative platform between migration officials in countries of origin, transit and destination along the migration routes in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Initially focusing on transit migration, the MTM has extended its scope over the years to cover a broad range of migration management issues, including the thematic areas of irregular and mixed migration, as well as migration and development.
The Mediterranean Transit Migration (MTM) Dialogue is an informal consultative platform between migration officials in countries of origin, transit, and destination along the migration routes in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
It operates at the technical level and its informal and nonbinding character enables an open exchange of perspectives that contributes to the opinion-forming of officials.
Initially focusing on transit migration, it has extended its scope to cover a broad range of migration issues, including 'migration and development' and 'mixed migration'. Since 2015, the Dialogue also encompasses the local level, applying the concept of dialogue and information exchange to a network of five Northern and five Southern Mediterranean cities.
The MTM Dialogue follows the main global, African and European policy guidelines and fully respects the international legal framework pertinent to migration issues. Synergies and cross-fertilisation are ensured with other relevant initiatives.
The driving force of the dialogue has always been to address not only current issues, but to adopt an innovative approach and anticipate future challenges.
It reflects the diversity of migration actors and builds on their respective expertise. The Dialogue addresses issues in a sustainable fashion and ensures a regular and long-term transfer of results and methodologies to all participating states, maximising the benefits of inter-agency cooperation.
The MTM Dialogue has been hosted by ICMPD since its inception in 2002 and its working languages are Arabic, English, and French.
The guiding principles of the MTM Dialogue are informal, technical, and non-binding. This allows for open exchanges, which explore and acknowledge various perspectives. Experience shows that such an informal forum can significantly contribute to the opinion-forming of officials and be supportive for more formal dialogues and processes. It focuses on questions and topics of actual concern to MTM partner states and cities.
The Rabat Process
The Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) is a regional migration dialogue, bringing together countries of origin, transit and destination of the migration routes linking Central, West and Northern Africa with Europe. It offers a framework for consultation for 57 partner countries and additional stakeholders, including the European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). During its more than 15 years of existence, it has established itself as a successful and active Dialogue between national authorities on technical and political questions related to migration and development.
- DIALOGUE: Discussing common challenges and opportunities and reaching consensus.
- NETWORK: Building Euro-African networks at technical and political levels.
- ACTION: Formulating and implementing initiatives taking into account national and regional specificities.
- KNOWLEDGE-SHARING: Sharing information on projects, policies and practices among the partners of the Dialogue.
- MONITORING: Follows-up on commitments made in the JVAP and its strategic framework.
The Rabat Process aims to foster solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility in the joint management of migration issues in full respect of human rights. By sharing experiences and challenges, trust is built among the national authorities involved, leading to a common understanding of migration issues. The Dialogue distinguishes itself from others by following a balanced approach in all its undertakings and decision-making mechanisms.
The Marrakesh Action Plan 2018-2020, adopted during the 5th Ministerial Conference in 2018, defined 10 objectives and 23 actions and paid particular attention to fostering coherence and complementarity with the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP). It set out the following thematic areas for cooperation, which are aligned to the five domains defined by the JVAP:
- Development benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement
- Legal migration and mobility
- Protection and asylum
- Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings
- Return, readmission and reintegration
The success of the Rabat Process is also grounded in the state-driven nature of its activities and the network of National Focal Points that links the Dialogue to the national administrations taking part. Moreover, it is supported by a Secretariat that facilitates the Dialogue and carries out support activities under the guidance of the Steering Committee and the Chair of the Dialogue.
The Steering Committee is comprised of 5 EU Member States (Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain), 5 African countries (Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Senegal), the EU and ECOWAS. The current Chair of the Rabat Process is Equatorial Guinea.
For more information on the Rabat Process’s meetings, its partners, strategic framework and governance, please visit the Rabat Process website here.
Learn about the Rabat Process within the Migration and Mobility Dialogue Support Programme (MMD).
The Khartoum Process
The Khartoum Process is a platform for political cooperation among the countries along the migration route between the Horn of Africa and Europe, with a focus on tackling the challenges associated with the trafficking in human beings and the smuggling of migrants along these routes. Since 2017, the Khartoum Process has been undergoing an expansion of its thematic scope to include issues related to international protection, migration and development, and labour migration, among others.
Also known as the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, the inter-continental consultation framework aims at:
- Establishing a continuous dialogue for enhanced cooperation on migration and mobility
- Identifying and supporting concrete projects to address trafficking in human beings and the smuggling of migrants
- Giving new impetus to the regional collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination regarding the migration route between the Horn of Africa and Europe.
The objectives of the Khartoum Process:
- A common understanding of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants
- Opportunities for balanced partnership
- A spirit of shared responsibility and enhanced cooperation
A focus on human trafficking and people smuggling
As per the Rome Declaration, the main focus of the dialogue is fighting human trafficking and people smuggling.
Membership, Actors and Governance
The following countries are signatories of the Declaration of the Ministerial Conference of the Khartoum Process, also known as the Rome Declaration: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia and United Kingdom*.Since this Declaration, Libya was also invited as a Member of the Khartoum Process upon the establishment of a Government of National Accord, and Norway, Switzerland and Uganda have also become Members of the Process.
*Note: The UK has withdrawn from the European Union on 31 January 2020 and is no longer a Member State of the EU
The Khartoum Process is led by a Steering Committee comprised of five EU Member States (Italy, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden), five African countries (Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan), the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the African Union Commission.
The current Chair of the Khartoum Process is The Netherlands.
For more on this, please visit the Actors and Governance section of the Khartoum Process here.
A mechanism to monitor the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP)
At the Valletta Summit on Migration on 11-12 November 2015, the Khartoum Process, together with the Rabat Process, has been mandated to monitor the implementation of the initiatives and actions under the JVAP.
Learn about the Khartoum Process within the Migration and Mobility Dialogue Support Programme (MMD).
The Continent-to-Continent Migration and Mobility Dialogue (C2CMMD)
The Africa-EU Continent-to-Continent Migration and Mobility Dialogue (C2CMMD) builds on engagement between strategic stakeholders at the continental level, to address issues of mutual importance and benefit in the spirit of partnership and shared responsibility, and full respect of international law. This strengthened partnership takes into account and complements existing dialogues, namely the Rabat and Khartoum processes, the Valletta framework, as well as the Horn of Africa Initiative on Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants.
The Dialogue is anchored in the commitment of the African and European Unions expressed during the 2017 AU-EU Summit in Abidjan to deepen the cooperation and dialogue on migration and mobility between Africa and Europe, as well as in the 2019 meeting of EU-AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels. Support for broader cooperation was expressed, including, amongst other things towards the AU Migration Policy Framework for Africa and Plan of Action, the AU Protocol on the free movement of people, the African Agenda on Migration, the achievements to date and the mandate to update the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP).
The C2CMMD aims to:
- Provide a framework for consultation and coordination;
- Contribute to addressing migration-related challenges at the continental and inter-regional levels; and
- Encourage opportunities for partnership, shared responsibility and cooperation for results-oriented joint actions on migration and mobility.
Operating on the principle of subsidiarity, and in accordance with national, regional and global ambitions and policies, the C2CMMD thematic focus areas are informed by the Nairobi Action Points, which were agreed to by stakeholders in December 2019:
- Support to the AU Diaspora Legacy Projects
- Intelligence/Information Sharing on Anti-Trafficking/Anti-Smuggling
- Return, Readmission and Reintegration
- The African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration
- Support the AU Free Movement Protocol
- Legal Pathways for Migration
- A Joint Framework
Learn about the C2CMMD within the Migration and Mobility Dialogue Support Programme (MMD).
Director Migration Dialogues & Cooperation