Migration and Home Affairs

Eastern Partnership

Successive EU enlargements have brought Armenia , Azerbaijan , Belarus , Georgia , Moldova, and Ukraine closer to the EU and, therefore, their security, stability and prosperity increasingly impact upon those of the EU and vice-versa. A joint declaration signed in Prague in May 2009 established an Eastern Partnership (EaP) and put forward concrete ideas for enhancing the EU's relationship with the region, including in the field of home affairs.

Subsequent summits – in Warsaw in September 2011 , in Vilnius in November 2013 , and in Riga in May 2015 – discussed the progress achieved in the framework of the Eastern Partnership and specified priorities for furthering the cooperation.

Increasing cooperation on Home Affairs

Formal dialogue takes place through annual Association and Cooperation Councils and Association and Cooperation Committees. A Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security has also been established with Georgia (2008), Armenia and Azerbaijan (2010), Moldova and Ukraine (2011), which is the forum for expert discussions in the home affairs area.

The first Eastern Partnership Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting took place on 7 and 8 October 2013 in Luxembourg. The home affairs part focused on fight against corruption; fight against organised and transnational crime; cybercrime; and migration and mobility. In the Joint Declaration on Eastern Partnership – Justice and Home Affairs Cooperation, the participants expressed their commitment to continuous cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs.

The second Eastern Partnership Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting took place in Riga, on 29 January 2015. In the matter of home affairs discussions focused on terrorism, in particular in the light of the shocking terrorist attacks Paris suffered in early January 2015. In the Joint Statement following the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Riga on 29 and 30 January, the participants highlighted the need to reinforce counter-terrorism efforts both at national and EU level.

Multilateral cooperation

The EU Prague summit of 2009 established four thematic platforms to support open and free discussions on topics relevant to the Eastern Partnership. Various panels were created under these platforms.

DG Migration and Home Affairs activities are concerned by three of these panels, established under the first platform that deals with Democracy, good governance and stability:

  • Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum

The Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum was launched in 2009 by the EU Prague summit. It supports cooperation by providing a forum where all migration and asylum related aspects can be openly discussed amongst the Eastern partners and between them and the EU. Managed by the European Commission with the assistance of the Swedish Migration Board and IOM, it encompasses all 6 EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) and is open to all Member States.

The core of the Panel activities is built around two Panel meetings and two expert workshops per year. The Panel meetings are oriented at policy discussions, whereas expert workshops focus more on the practical mechanisms and implementation. As a rule, the Panel events are organized jointly by one Eastern partner and one EU MS.

  • Eastern Partnership Panel on Fight Against Corruption

The Eastern Partnership Panel on Fight Against Corruption, created in 2009, aims to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices on building integrity, prevention and prosecution of corruption. It aims at promoting adherence to international standards; in particular those formulated in relevant Council of Europe and UN conventions, promoting a strategic and comprehensive approach, as well as participation of Civil Society.

Representatives from the Eastern Partnership countries come from both government and civil society, ensuring a balanced representation, as well as the Civil Society Forum. The Commission also actively encourages Member State representatives to attend, including delivering, presentations on relevant topics.

Since 2013, the panel on the fight against corruption has been organised by DG Migration and Home Affairs. Discussions have covered general anti-corruption activities and priorities in the Eastern Partnership countries (2013), public procurement (2014), public sector integrity and asset declarations (July 2015), and corruption in the health sector (November 2015). The two meetings in 2015 were organised alongside meetings of the Commission's experience sharing programme on corruption issues, allowing for excellent discussions and exchange of views between Eastern Partnership representatives and experts from the Member States.

This approach will be continued for the 2016 edition of the panel.

  • Eastern Partnership Panel on Integrated Border Management

The Eastern Partnership Panel on Integrated Border Management (IBM), established in 2010 and organised by EEAS and DG Neighborhood and Enlargement in cooperation with DG Migration and Home Affairs, seeks to facilitate the exchange of best practices on IBM. The IBM panel meets twice a year alternatively in the EU and in one Eastern partner. Where possible, each meeting of the panel focuses discussions on a limited number of topics of particular interest to participants with a view to improving coordinated border management, and is combined with field trips to border management facilities on the ground. The Panel also promotes and monitors the implementation of capacity building activities and pilot projects under the EaP IBM Flagship Initiative.

The Eastern Partnership Integrated Border Management Flagship Initiative was created in 2010 with the following key objectives:

  • Improve security, reduce smuggling and human trafficking, and facilitate mobility of people across non-EU borders;
  • Help partners develop IBM strategies, align border management rules, and adopt best practices in line with EU standards;
  • Enhance multilateral cooperation and networking among partners, candidate countries and EU Member States;
  • Contribute to the fulfilment of border management benchmarks of bilateral Visa Dialogues between the EU and partner countries.

The Flagship Initiative seeks to mobilise multi-donor support, funding from different international financial institutions, and investment from the private sector.

Mobility, Visa facilitation, and readmission

EU has concluded a series of agreements with its Eastern European partners with the goal of regulating and facilitating migration. Five Mobility Partnerships and five visa facilitation and readmission agreements link the EU and Eastern European countries.