Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said: "There is no doubt that today migration is one of the mega-trends that define our century. At the same time, the refugee crisis is one of Europe's biggest challenges. In Brussels, the place where we meet today, for example, more than half of the population was born in a foreign country. Building walls and fences is not only against our common humanity, it is also a bad policy".
William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the IOM said: “IOM and the EU have deepened our strategic dialogue on migration and mobility within the EU and externally in the EU’s partner countries since the signing of the IOM-EU Strategic Cooperation Framework in 2012. This has led to more regular channels of cooperation, discussion and joint planning to address the mounting challenges of 21st century migration.” “The EU and IOM share the view that no country can effectively address migration alone, and that all countries, international organizations, civil society and local authorities need to work together to make a comprehensive, coherent and sustainable European migration policy a reality,” he added.
The purpose of the annual meeting is to discuss strategic and operational approaches to addressing global migration and forced displacement challenges. This year's meeting included discussions on how to work towards a sustainable and coherent approach to migrant protection, return, and reintegration, as well as the concrete implementation of recent global and EU policy priorities. These include for instance the 2016 New York Declaration for refugees and migrants and the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. It also includes the EU's new approach to foster self-reliance of forcibly displaced populations and to support their hosts (April 2016), the Partnership Framework Approach towards Third Countries (June 2016) and the outcome of the February 2017 Senior Officials Meeting on the State of Play of the implementation of the Joint Valletta Action Plan.
The parties also discussed the situation in Libya and the challenges related to the Central Mediterranean route, as well as on IOM’s engagement in the implementation of the Migration Partnership Framework with a number of priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Following the Malta Declaration by the members of the European Council, the EU and the IOM agreed on further stepping up cooperation along the Central Mediterranean route, in particular in Libya, in order to ensure protection to those in need and more efficient migration management - fully respecting human rights and international standards. The parties also discussed how the IOM can continue playing an important role in the implementation of the Migration Partnership Framework with a number of priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have a close and long-standing partnership since long before the IOM became a fully-fledged UN agency last year. The EU and its Member States remain one of the largest contributors to IOM's budget with more than 540 projects contracted in 2015 and 2016 of a total value of €890 million. Half of the funding comes from the European Commission services. In the context of humanitarian aid, the EU and IOM have strengthened their cooperation continually. From 2014 to 2016, the IOM has received on average around €51 million in EU humanitarian aid per year, making it the EU's fifth most important humanitarian aid partner.
Ahead of the meeting, IOM published the second edition of its partnership report showcasing its global cooperation with the EU on migration and mobility. The new report captures the main features and tangible results of the IOM-EU partnership from 2015 to 2016 with a focus on joint efforts in implementing the Joint Valletta Action Plan, as well as IOM’s engagement with the EU Trust Fund for Africa. “IOM-EU Cooperation on Migration and Mobility: Addressing the Valletta Summit Priorities Together” examines how IOM and the EU are working together across the five priority domains agreed at the Valletta Summit in 2015: development benefits of migration and addressing root causes; legal migration and mobility, protection and asylum; prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; and return, readmission and reintegration.