Council of the EU discussing migration and security on the ‘Silk Route’ and Prague Process action plan

The growth of EU policy-making on the “external dimension of migration” shows no sign of abating. Two recent documents, published here, cover “migration and security challenges on the Silk Route” and a Ministerial Declaration and the 2023-27 Action Plan for the Prague Process.

The ‘Silk Route’ countries are Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey. The Council’s discussion paper (pdf) on “migration and security” on that route states:

“The Czech Presidency would like to address the complex issue of migration flows along the Silk Route, addressing both related migration and security challenges. The aim is to focus the discussion on seeking viable solutions for the future, while avoiding a situation whereby migration is viewed as a threat.”

This desire to avoid treating migration as a threat follows the paragraph:

“While many refugees are fleeing from terrorist groups such as Da’esh in Syria and Iraq, criminals, including terrorists and returning foreign terrorist fighters, may infiltrate and hence abuse migration flows in an attempt to enter the EU undetected. In order to avoid this, the systematic feeding of data into and checks of the relevant databases at the EU’s external borders, in particular the SIS (including the use of biometrics), is key.”

Member states are asked:

“1. In your opinion, are sufficient efforts being made to cope with current and future challenges, from both an internal security and a migration perspective, along the Silk Route? What particular challenges do you see with regard to the current situation?
2. What is your assessment of the internal security challenges arising from the current situation in Afghanistan and related migration flows?
3. In your opinion, how should we, at EU level, improve our cooperation with Turkey in order to better address irregular migration and security concerns in Europe?”

An annex looks at the situation in the “Silk Route countries”.

On Iraq, the document states:

“Iraqi nationals are still thought to represent a sizeable group of third-country nationals within the territory of EU Member States who have been ordered to return. Iraq is facing long-term challenges, with forced displacement and instability due to internal and regional conflicts.”

On Turkey:

“Regardless of its own geopolitical intentions, Turkey will remain an integral partner for the EU for cooperation in the area of internal security.”

The document on the Prague Process (pdf) contains a draft Ministerial Declaration and the body’s draft Action Plan for 2023-27.

The Prague Process involves:

Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and the European Union, represented by the European Commission.

The Russian Federation is currently suspended from participation in the group.

The document invites COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives of member states to the EU) to approve the Declaration and the Action Plan, but they do not yet seem to have come onto COREPER’s agenda.

Documentation

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