On 14-15 December 2017, the Eastern Partnership Migration and Asylum Panel met in Warsaw to discuss economic integration of migrants. Olena Malynovska from the National Institute for Strategic Studies (Ukraine), and Dzmitry Babicki from CASE Belarus represented the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum at the panel meeting. The event also gathered experts from the EU Member States, the six EaP countries, European institutions, UN agencies, OSCE and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). They exchanged views on the effectiveness of the existing policies on economic integration of migrants at both the EU and national levels.

During the meeting, participants showed their willingness to cooperate with the civil society, especially on the topics where CSOs can play a major role, such as defending labour rights of migrants and supporting diaspora organszations. Some positive impact from the implementation of migrant integration policies in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova were also highlighted.

Dzmitry Babicki presented the conclusions of the study the impact of social dialogue on the optimisation of labour migration in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine conducted in the framework of the EaP CSF Re-granting project. He focused on the role of trade unions in policy dialogue, the need for measures on supporting migrants, the issue of ageing societies and shrinking retirement funds in relation to labour migration. Olena Malynovska took an active part in the discussions on the migrant support programmes and the role of diaspora in the economic integration of migrants.

“Although there is no demand for restricting labour migration from the civil society organizations, they often insist that polices should be in place to make it a win-win scenario for both sending and receiving countries. Major challenges include proper defense of human and labour rights of migrants, such as the right to equal pay, decent working and living conditions; and further regulation of social security issues on bilateral level.

Dzmitry Babicki

CASE Belarus; member of the EaP CSF WG5

Although most of the EaP countries have a negative migration balance, the recent changes in migration trends are gradually transforming them into receiving countries, which brings new challenges. In light of the growing immigrant population, the EaP countries need to develop more comprehensive and effective policy measures in the sphere of economic integration of migrants. Therefore, the access to the national labour markets by migrants plays a crucial role in ensuring their well-being and benefiting national economies and hosting societies.

During the meeting the European Commission stressed that migrant integration is mostly within the national competence. Other important aspects were discussed, such as the need for addressing the language issue or the importance of education. The meeting became a good opportunity for networking facilitating cooperation and exchange in the future.