IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The CSF took part in the EaP Panel on Migration and Asylum
The EaP CSF was represented at the 4th meeting of the EaP Panel on Migration and Asylum which took place in Tbilisi on 20-21 March by Iryna Sushko from Europe without Barriers, Ukraine and Tamara Pataraia from the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development in Georgia. The Panel meeting focused on the issues of readmission, return and reintegration. Discussions during the meeting centred on circular migration, return and readmission of foreigners, the EU return directive, ensuring effective readmission and civil society’s involvement in reintegration.
The involvement of participants of the CSF in the Panel meeting was the right step in order to develop and increase transparency and publicity in the dialogue between the EU, national governments and experts from the civil society. The participation of civil society on the one hand raises the awareness and knowledge of the civil society on the issue and on the other hand allows the needs of civil society, especially in the sphere of data protection and protection of human rights of citizens, to be heard in those debates, thereby producing more efficient activities.
The panel meeting provides experts from all countries with a great opportunity to present the situation of the current state policy and assess its relevance to the standards of the EU in the sphere of migration and readmission. The event is very useful for the officials of the partner countries who attended it. For example, the state of play of Georgia’s migration management system is on an early stage and therefore a broad overview of the migration management systems introduced in the EU is of utmost importance to the government in order to exchange expertise. This exchange of expertise should enhance efficiency and sustainability of return, readmission and reintegration in the EaP countries, especially as these countries are at the moment likely to face difficulties in safeguarding the rights of returnees due to the fact that the state management system is not prepared for adequately addressing the problem.
As the need for a balanced assessment based on objective and relevant information is given, the participant of independent experts should become an integral part of the Panel’s agenda. Also experts from state institutions should not focus exclusively on internal information sources, but take the assessments obtained from independent analysts more into account.
Iryna Sushko from the CSF expressed concerns regarding the Ukrainian law “On the Unified State Register of Demographics and Documents Confirming the Citizenship of Ukraine, providing identity of special status”, which introduces electronic passports for travelling abroad in Ukraine. Electronic passports are a precondition for visa liberalisation with the EU. However, the law in its current form violates a wide range of international and European standards on personal data protection. Civil society experts stressed that without amendments addressing these concerns the law can not be considered a sufficient step in implementing EU standards in this sphere. The need to launch information campaigns in the EaP countries in order to improve the understanding by the general public of the importance of the issues discussed at the Panel was emphasised by the representatives of the CSF.
In the view of the CSF the EaP multilateral track with its Panel on Migration and Asylum provides an important complementary element of bilateral relations in the sphere of migration and visa liberalisation by creating a regional platform for countries with similar interests and problems and should continue to serve as a platform for discussion including civil society representatives of the partner countries.