The development of the Budapest Process since the Rhodes Ministerial Conference

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1 The development of the Budapest Process since the Rhodes Ministerial Conference Policy Paper drafted by the Secretariat at ICMPD for the purpose of the twelfth meeting of the Budapest Group of Senior Officials St. Petersburg, October 2004 ICMPD, Vienna October 2004

2 The methodology and achievements of the Budapest Process and its Working Groups In 1991 with the fall of the iron curtain the phenomenon of global migration changed significantly both in substance and quantity. In Europe, as a reaction of the Governments to the massive inflow of asylum seekers and irregular migrants the Berlin Process was established to foster a harmonised approach towards the phenomenon of irregular migration. In 1993 Hungary took over the Chairmanship of what became the Budapest Process, an inter-governmental forum aiming at the prevention and control of irregular movements to and through Europe. It works as a consultative mechanism for exchange of views and ideas in an informal manner on issues related to the fight and prevention of irregular migration among all participating States. The equality among them ensures that all participating States have an equal standing and an equal opportunity of presenting their problems and proposing solutions. The informal nature of the Process allows for discussion of these issues in a non-binding manner, at the same time furthering the bilateral or multilateral dialogue in these areas. The Budapest Group of Senior Officials was established in 1993, it meets on an annual basis to take stock of the developments and give further directions on the activities undertaken in the framework of the Process. In addition there is a wide range of Working Groups dealing with concrete issues, as well as a series of ad hoc meetings on specific topics. Since 1994 the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) serves as Secretariat to the Budapest Process, it provides organisational support for the functioning of the Process. Three Ministerial Conferences (1993 in Budapest, 1997 in Prague and 2003 in Rhodes) adopted a set of recommendations which aim at furthering a comprehensive approach in the area of prevention of irregular migration by addressing issues related to border management, visa policies and practices, return and readmission, trafficking and smuggling in human beings, carrier and employer sanctions. On the basis of these recommendations, a dialogue on legal harmonisation, exchange of information, technical and financial assistance, etc. has been promoted. The adopted Ministerial recommendations are the mandate for the work of the Process. They are not legally binding by nature however, carrying the weight of political commitment on the highest level. The activities of the Process have taken place parallel to an equally dynamic development within the EU and among its Member States and have aimed at bringing and familiarising with these developments those other non-eu countries participating in the Process. In 2003, taking into account the broadened realities of trans European irregular movements Turkey was nominated as a Co-Chair of the Process. At present the participating States in the Process are Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia (FYR), Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, 2

3 Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, as well as Australia, Canada and United States of America, as Observers and relevant international organisations active in the field of migration. This broad participation reflects the character of irregular movements in a truly pan-european perspective. During the period the Process had primarily focused on addressing the problems of the Central and Eastern European Accession States. Furthering the approximation of legislation, standards and practices towards a harmonised approach at dealing with the multifaceted aspects of irregular movements. Through its work it has contributed to the approximation efforts on the field of legal harmonisation, policies and practices in the areas of irregular migration management and through this to the successful alignment to EU standards, leading to the Enlargement. During the late 1990s the migration realities in Europe began to change. With the advancing of the EU Enlargement process and progress in the enhancement of entry and residence regimes, border management structures and development of asylum systems, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, who were initially countries of origin of irregular migration, were more and more becoming countries of transit for irregular migrants heading towards the West. As of 1 May 2004 the Enlarged Europe of 25 Member States is a reality and the ten new Member States already have to deal with the challenges of becoming countries of destination. The source of the migration pressure has shifted further eastwards, the main countries of origin and transit of irregular movements from the East are becoming the countries of the CIS region and there is a recognised need to involve them into a structured dialogue. The experience and practice of the Process in dealing with concrete issues, like visa policy harmonisation, advancing the development of a system of readmission agreements promoting sustainable returns, information exchange of data on asylum applications, border apprehensions, estimates of illegal flows, etc. of the now new Member States, namely Estonia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia is there at the disposal of all Budapest Process participating States and can be further developed according to the realities and needs of other countries and regions. In addition to the geographical shift of focus throughout the years there has been a shift also in the nature of the Budapest Process. From a restrictive, control and prevention-oriented approach, it has moved towards a more comprehensive perspective, which increasingly emphasises safeguards for asylum seekers and refugees and a developing approach towards dialogue and co-operation with countries of origin and transit. These new directions were reflected upon by participating States and found their way into the adopted new set of recommendations at the Budapest Process Ministerial Conference, which took place on June 2003 in Rhodes, hosted by the Government of Greece in the framework of its EU Presidency. The Conference was attended by 45 delegations from participating Governments and international organisations. 3

4 A condensed version of the Recommendations (attached), aims at indicating which of the Recommendations are of a more general character, mainly providing advice to Governments on principles or directions of work, and which Recommendations are of a more specific character, requiring operational implementation action by the Secretariat. As emerges, 12 of the Recommendations, according to this categorisation, require operational follow-up action, of which 7 relate to the maintenance of old Working Groups or the establishment of new ones: Old Working Groups New Working Groups WG Visa policies (since 1998) WG Russia/CIS (rec.7) WG Return/ Readmission (since 1998) WG Admission policies (rec. 12) WG South Eastern Europe (since 1998) WG on harmonisation of penalty WG Irregular movements/ Asylum (since 2001) scales (rec. 3) WG Moldova (since 2002) The statements of delegations unanimously greeted the proposed re-direction of the Process, in concentrating on problems relating to irregular migration affecting the neighbouring countries and regions of the enlarged European Union. The statements reflected the truly pan-european dimension of the process, but also its trans-atlantic dimensions (with Australia, Canada and USA being present as observers) as well as its linkages to inter-governmental processes dealing with irregular migration in other parts of the world (cf. the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking and Related Transnational Crime). The strong statement of Russia (in underlining the commitments of the St. Petersburg Summit on visa liberalisation versus growing trends of irregular migration in the CIS-region), as well as of the EU Candidate country Turkey (on the new trends of illegal migration in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean as a result of stricter Turkish policies) were noted. Finally, the representatives of the countries involved in the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp), notably Serbia, referred to the commitments of the Thessaloniki Summit on visa liberalisation. As has been pointed out thus far, the guiding principles according to which the Budapest Process functions can be outlined as follows. The Budapest Process is a government-driven mechanism for policy dialogue on issues related to prevention and control of irregular movements in a pan- European perspective. The Chairmanship of the Process is shared between the Governments of Hungary and Turkey; The Budapest Process serves as an informal inter-governmental mechanism for exchange of information, experiences, policies and can be used to identify concrete problem areas and through dialogue and co-operation these identified challenges can be addressed; The mandate and general direction for the work of the Budapest Process is given through the adoption of Ministerial recommendations. Though, they do not have a legally binding character they carry a political commitment; On the basis of the recommendations work in the various Working Groups on specific topics, led by interested Governments, take place. As a result of the discussions, meeting conclusions are adopted, which are agreed to by all present delegations and are shared with the wider circle of Budapest Process participating States; 4

5 The forum is open for participation to all interested Governments and international organisations. The background documents and papers presented at meetings, the adopted conclusions and other documents are at the disposal of participants and the institutions they represent; The views expressed in the framework of the Process have an informal character and do not carry the weight of political statements; ICMPD, an inter-governmental organisation with Headquarters in Vienna, serves as Secretariat to the Process, providing organisational and administrative support to Governments for the preparation and carrying out of the activities. The EU policy perspective As was mentioned above, it has been the role of the Budapest Process to work parallel and in consultation with the European Commission and to bring further to the wider circle of Budapest Process participating States the developments, the mechanisms and thinking on related topics among the Union, the Commission and the Member States. With the Enlargement taking place, the attention is now being directed to the countries and regions neighbouring the Union. The adopted communication on Wider Europe, the New Neighbourhood Policy and the Wider Europe National Action Plans provide the policy frame, which will direct in the coming years the relations of the Union and its Member States towards their neighbours in general and in the field of Justice and Home Affairs in particular. The December 2002 Copenhagen European Council strongly emphasised the Union s determination to avoid new dividing lines in Europe and to promote stability and prosperity within and beyond the borders of the Union. 1 The Tessaloniki Presidency Conclusions reaffirmed the Union s commitment to develop new policies toward Wider Europe in order to reinforce shared values and promote common interests. 2 In its Communication on Wider Europe 3 the Commission outlined the main principles of the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and defined the strengthening of relations with Russia and the enhancement of relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus as main priorities. The Union acknowledged the necessity to apply the full range of its policies (foreign, security, trade, development, environment and others) in order to meet all the challenges evolving both from the transition processes taking place within the successor states of the Soviet Union as well as from the impact of these processes on the relationship between these states and the Union as a whole. At the same time it was emphasised that in applying these policies it has to be assured that both the Union and its new neighbours will be put into a position to benefit from evolving opportunities. 4 1 Copenhagen European Council 12 and 13 December 2002, Presidency Conclusions, Art Thessaloniki European Council 19 and 20 June 2003, Presidency Conclusions, Art Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, Wider Europe Neighbourhood: A new Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours, Brussels 11 March 2003, COM (2003) 104 final, p. 4 4 COM (2003) 104 final, p. 3 5

6 The ENP s main objective is to put both the Member States of the European Union and the new neighbouring countries in a position to benefit from the 2004 Enlargement in order to contribute to increased stability, security and prosperity. The TACIS programme covering the 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) was initiated as a programme for directed technical assistance, since then it is evolving to become a more strategic instrument in the co-operation process of a complex and evolving relationship with each of the 12 countries concerned. The formalisation of bilateral relations between the EU and individual partner countries has been achieved through the negotiation of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs), now in force with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, the agreements with Belarus and Turkmenistan have been signed but have not entered into force. PCAs are legal frameworks, based on the respect of democratic principles and human rights, setting out the political, economic and trade relationship between the EU and its partner countries. Each PCA is a ten-year bilateral treaty signed and ratified by the EU and the individual state. The project on the Re-direction of the Budapest Process towards the CIS region On the basis of the direction given with the Rhodes Ministerial Recommendations, and in particular recommendation 7: Recommend that a special co-operative effort is undertaken within the Budapest Process to agree on the main common challenges with regard to irregular migration, including issues relating to the demarcation of state borders, which are confronting Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, in particular the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia; the Secretariat at ICMPD prepared and submitted a project on the Re-direction of the Budapest Process towards the CIS region to the European Commission which was accepted for financing. The project has been financially and politically supported also by the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Georgia, Lithuania and the Russian Federation. The target countries of the project are all twelve States members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), namely: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Taking into consideration that the irregular movement of migrants within, from and through the CIS region is on a steady rise, it can be foreseen that this trend will intensify in the near future, especially as the Enlarged Union can be expected to 6

7 attract more migrants towards the border areas of the Union. This phenomenon will have serious implications on the development of Common EU Asylum and Migration Policies. However, there is not enough information, statistical data and analysis of the illegal migratory movements within, from and through these countries. Moreover, there is no structured informal dialogue on the migration related challenges, which both the CIS and the Central and Western European countries face. Recognising this, the CIS project has the overall objective of furthering the development of an informal process for addressing irregular migration challenges in the CIS region and thus, paving the way to a structured dialogue both among the countries of the region and the neighbouring EU countries and countries of destination in Europe on these issues. In an effort to address these problems the project aims at providing an overview and analysis of the overall migration situation in each of the twelve participating countries. Based on the ICMPD experience in Central and Eastern Europe and the Budapest Process methodology, a network of senior officials dealing with irregular migration of all target countries will be established and further developed. On the basis of this network, the informal and flexible mechanisms of the process will allow for the creation of a forum, for the viable conduct of a policy dialogue on issues related to irregular migration. It will provide the opportunity to exchange views on policy challenges and options, and foster the development of mutual understanding and co-operation. This forum will also serve as a mechanism for the exchange of information, statistical data, good practices on irregular migration among all interested parties. Therefore, this project can and should be viewed as a preparatory phase for the extension of the Budapest Process to cover the whole CIS region, as recommended in Rhodes. Since March 2003 the implementation of the project has started. Thus far the Secretariat has carried out the envisaged introductory missions to the capitals of all the twelve countries and has obtained the commitment and readiness of each of the countries to take part in the project. As a next step a series of fact-finding missions with experts from the countries supporting the project are envisaged. Their aim will be to provide an overview of the migration situation in each of the twelve countries. Such missions have already taken place to Belarus and Russia. The future working modalities of the Budapest Process As it was demonstrated thus far, the Rhodes Recommendations set the main directions for the development of the Budapest Process in the coming years. From an implementation perspective the main new directions relate to (i) a change in geographical focus from Central Europe to CIS and Turkey and their neighbouring countries, while maintaining focus on South Eastern Europe (notably the five countries of the SAp (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia (FYR), Serbia and Montenegro), (ii) a change in working methodology, involving countries 7

8 of origin of irregular movements, implying more of dialogue and partnership, and (iii) a certain link-up to regional processes in other parts of the world dealing with irregular migration. Presently the activities within the CIS project have been the main area of work for the Secretariat at ICMPD. The overview reports of the migration situation, which will be drafted on the basis of the fact-finding missions and the results of the regional meetings, will serve as the background for further planning of activities. As noted above, this project is to be seen as preparatory work, aiming at involving all the CIS countries to take active participation in the regular work of the Process. The results of the most recent meetings in the framework of the Budapest Process (the Working Group on harmonisation of penalties for trafficking and smuggling, Tallinn, April, the Working Group on admission policies, Budapest, June 2003 and the Working Group on irregular movements and asylum, Prague, September) have clearly demonstrated the interest of participating States to involve the countries of the CIS region in the dialogue in each of the different areas. The process of gradual involvement of these countries into the Process will allow for the promotion of the Prague and Rhodes recommendations, adopted at these Ministerial conferences and are of relevance for the CIS countries among them and for developing new mechanisms to address the particular irregular migration challenges that they face. With the confirmed commitment of the countries of the CIS region towards participation in the activities of the Budapest Process, in the long run it might be possible to pursue the preparations for a new CIS Ministerial Conference dealing in particular with the migration challenges of these counties at a higher political level. Participating States are invited to consider the follow up activities along the proposed lines of action and further elaborate them: 1. The present activities of the Process will be broadened to involve the countries of the CIS region, of particular relevance could be the Working Groups on Harmonisation of Penalty Scales, Irregular Movements and Asylum, Return and Readmission, whose scope will be broadened to include to perspective and views of these countries. 2. At the same time, the results of the project will identify possible new areas for dialogue and co-operation, which will be reflected in new activities introduced into the flexible mechanism of the Process, for example, enhanced dialogue on irregular movements within the CIS region, on trafficking in human beings both for sexual exploitation, as well as for illegal labour and an exchange of policies and practices on Labour Agreements and regularisation campaigns. 3. The results of the CIS project could allow for the development of new projects on the basis of the identified gaps and needs. These would be forwarded to potential donors for further consideration. As it has been underlined, the Process will keep its continuous involvement with the countries of the SA process with the activities of the WG on South Eastern Europe and on Visa Harmonisation and promoting a harmonised regional approach towards dealing with the irregular migration challenges. 8

9 Recognising the inter-linkage with other regional processes addressing the phenomenon of irregular migration and with the aim to learn from their experiences the consultations with the Bali Process will be pursued, Australia has expressed its preparedness to lead this process. This evolving geographical focus was recognised with the appointment of Turkey as Co-Chair of the Budapest Process at the meeting of the Friends of the Chair in September The proposed work plan for the activities until the end of 2004 and for 2005 (attached) reflects this thinking it will of course be further elaborated on the basis of the results of the meeting of the Budapest Group of Senior Officials in St. Petersburg. As a concluding remark it should be again pointed out that the main challenges ahead are the irregular migration movements within through and into the Euro-CIS region. In a globalising world, such challenges cannot in the long term be confined to a specific region. The Budapest Process methodology could be used to explore the possibilities of enhanced targeted and effective co-operation on migration management issues, particularly in the field of irregular migration, including and beyond the immediate neighbouring countries to the Member States (New Neighbourhood Initiative). As a tool for informal inter-governmental exchange the Budapest Process provides a platform for the participating States to identify problem areas and concrete issues to be tackled in an intra-regional, regional or inter-regional framework towards efficient and effective co-operation. In this context the forwarding of a harmonised approach towards the challenges created by the constantly evolving nature and magnitude of global irregular migration through the perspective of migration co-operation involving countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as relevant international organisations and promoting a comprehensive view of migration needs a forum and a mechanism as integral elements. A forum where all interested states, of origin, transit and destination, can sit at the same table as partners and openly address issues of common concern; and a mechanism, which has been tested and proven as efficient, flexible and informal. (The Budapest Process represents such a mechanism, working as a complementary to the EU efforts, which during its ten years of existence has acquired experience in dealing with the challenges of fighting and reducing irregular migration in a pan European context. 9

10 Summary of the Rhodes Recommendations Annex G = general character O = requiring specific operational implementation action by Secretariat I. REDUCTION OF IRREGULAR MIGRATION 1. General intensification of fight against irregular migration (G) 2. Implementation of 1993 Budapest and 1997 Prague Recommendations (G) 3. Harmonization of penalty scales (G) 4. Ratification of Palermo protocols (G) 5. Exchange of information/experiences (G) 6. Partnership between States (G) II. HARMONIZATION OF PRE-ENTRY/ENTRY POLICIES 7. Russia/CIS (O) 8. WG visa policies (O) 9. Border management co-operation (O) 10. WG Moldova (O) 11. WG South East Europe (O) 12. Dialogue admission policies (O) III. ASYLUM/IRREGULAR MIGRATION 13. Safeguards for refugees (G) 14. International refugee standards (G) 15. WG irregular migration/asylum (O) 16. Finger-printing, registration etc. (G) 17. Safe third country, first country of asylum (G) IV. RETURN AND READMISSION 18. Co-operation between countries; voluntary/forced return (G) 19. Readmission agreements with pan-european countries (G) 20. Co-operation readmission between participating countries (G) 21. Confirmation of identity of persons to be readmitted (G) 22. WG return and readmission (O) 23. Voluntary return programmes (G) V. COMBAT OF TERRORISM 24. Visa screening, biometric features, information exchange, training (G) 25. Article 1 F Geneva Convention (G) VI. MONITORING AND FOLLOW-UP 26. Budapest Group continues (G) 27. Equal monitoring standards (O) 28. Safeguards for refugees (G) 29. Funding in general (G) 30. Concertation with other processes (O) 31. Financing of Secretariat (O)

11 Draft meeting plan for second half of 2004 and 2005 Purpose No. of Participants 1. Expert fact-finding mission to Caucasus 6 Place Date Comments Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia November 2. Caucasus regional meeting 50 Tbilisi November 3. Friends of Chair 30 Vienna December Missions planned within the CIS project Meeting planned within the CIS project 4. Expert fact-finding mission to Central Asia 6 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan March 5. Central Asia regional meeting 50 February 6. Final CIS Conference 100 Vienna May Missions planned within the CIS project Meeting planned within the CIS project 7. 6 th meeting WG irregular migration/asylum 9. South East European Working Group 10. Visa harmonisation for SEE, CIS etc. 60 Prague April 45 (Belgrade?) June 40 July 11. Return and readmission/migration cooperation 35 September 12. Admission policies 40 Bratislava 13. Harmonisation of penalty scales 20

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