Upon invitation from the ICMPD, CEIPA participated in the third Vienna Migration Conference “From Crisis Management to Future Governance” which took place on 18 and 19 October 2018 in Vienna. The organiser intended to focus on two main issues: “Reforming Refugee Protection” and “Skilled Migration”. The Conference was opened by the Director General of ICMPD, Mr. Michael Spindelegger, followed by Austrian Minister Mr. Gernot Blümel, Federal Chancellery for the European Union, Arts, Culture and Media.
In the past two years CEIPA has been part of the UN Assembly’s civil society consultative process aimed at reaching a consensus on the Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants.
The final conference of this process will take place in Marrakech on 10 and 11 December 2018.
CEIPA believes that events such as the Vienna Migration Conference 2018 organised by the ICMPD, could eventually contribute to a better understanding of migration flows, refugee protection and labour migration. As such, the event can be seen as the precursor of and an asset to the upcoming Marrakech intergovernmental conference. Furthermore, such events may initiate a fresher and broader dialogue on migration policies pursued by the countries of origin, transit and destination. Due to recent challenges caused by a large influx of refugees and migrants, Europe is compelled to intensify its efforts towards a more coherent and coordinated migration policy. Indeed, following the crisis in 2015, governments, political parties, parliaments, media and civil society have engaged into a wide and sometimes controversial discussion on migration revealing that solutions require a fresh approach beyond the frontiers of national states. Governments are obliged to propose a new system of coherent rules and procedures to cope with the global aspects of migration. Needless to say, such an approach requires to address fully and impartially the root causes of migration such as armed conflicts, civil strife, failed states, grave deterioration of human rights, adverse economic developments, over-population, environmental degradation, etc. This has to be accompanied by better coordinated humanitarian efforts, resettlement, and return of migrants, reception of labour force and refugees, as well as by measures combating radicalisation, smuggling and trafficking in human beings. Such a holistic approach necessitates the willingness of governments to engage in joint policy making. Dealing with all aspects of migration, beyond national frontiers and domestic security matters, while simultaneously taking into consideration the needs of countries of origin, transit and destination, should be a prerequisite for an all-encompassing and effective migration policy. As long as governments are not able or willing to agree on broadly based policies and make necessary institutional adjustments in such a way as to deal with root causes and consequences of migration in a holistic manner, no viable solutions shall be expected. Europe is still by and large pursuing the archaic and parochial national approach towards migration and refugee protection. Although migration is an inherently international, multi-national, multi-faceted global phenomenon, requiring a holistic and integrated strategy, the EU member states are predominantly focusing on narrow national interests and border protection, instead of defining a new approach towards migration as a global phenomenon. So far, no new structures, ministries or departments are being created on the national level in any European country with the objective to carry out and coordinate international as well as domestic measures in a holistic and integrated way. Defying logic, governments are increasingly acting unilaterally, favouring protectionism and using the limited mandate of the national ministries of interior and justice as a means to restrict or prevent the entry of migrants to their territory. In the long run this will by any means result in ineffective and counterproductive effects. Furthermore, this attitude may trigger dramatic humanitarian and political crises in frontline countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain, and their neighbouring countries in the Maghreb, Mashrek, Mediterranean basin, Turkey and northern Africa.
Managing migration in an orderly and controlled way implies appropriate measures to be taken in countries of origin, transit and destination. It is most surprising that more and more, traditional immigration countries tend to believe, that by simply reinforcing the border guards and border controls, they may deter illegal, irregular or clandestine immigration; in fact, according to experts, such measures contribute directly to emerging criminal activities by international gangs of smugglers and traffickers.
The Global Migration Compact, an intergovernmental initiative, under UN auspices, has set new parameters for discussing and dealing with global migration and protection of human rights that may facilitate common approaches and orderly management in the future. It is the opportunity to bring fresh ideas for the establishment of migrants processing and resettlement centres in various regions and countries of the world.
As regards the European Union, it is in its utmost interest to establish such centres and hubs within and outside the EU member states, with appropriate safeguards and protective measures for the benefit of migrants and the countries involved. However, at present neither the Asylum Support Office, FRONTEX, nor the European Border and Coastal Guard Agency have the political mandate or the operative capacities to deal with the migration influxes in its complexity. For the same reason the European External Action Service should be reformed and merged with a number of other services of the European Commission (Justice, Migration and Home Affairs, Development and Cooperation, ECHO, Employment and Social affairs, etc.) to create a new service dealing with internal and external aspects of migration. At present the European External Action Service is far from being capable to face the challenge of international migration. It was made plain by the inability of the EU High Representative to coordinate a common EU response in the run-up to the UN Marrakech conference 2018.
As long as the issue of migration remains fully within limits of the sovereign states, there is little or no prospect for any comprehensive solution for migration challenge. Only when European states undertake common efforts to address migration in a holistic way, give up their national egoism and cement a new European structure, initiatives such as the UN Global Migration Compact may be given a good chance to succeed. The Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakech on 10 and 11 December 2018 and its aftermath will be a salient test.