On 28 February 2020, the European Movement in Albania (EMA), in cooperation with the Slovak Foreign Policy Association and the Ministry of the Interior and with the support of SlovakAid, organized the 1st Session of Working Group II: Justice, Freedom, Security, on the topic “Adoption of the National Strategy on Migration Governance (Regular and Irregular): Challenges in Monitoring and Meeting International Criteria” in the framework of the National Convention on European Integration 2019-2021.
Gledis Gjipali, Executive Director of EMA, opened the Session I of the Working Group 2 of the Convention. He explained briefly how the Convention is being organized. Thus, within the Convention, four Working Groups have been set up, which will contribute positively to the challenges of approximating Albanian legislation with that of the EU and promoting the co-operation of the state sector with civil society. Each WG is focused in one or some chapters of EU Acquis, while WG 2 will mainly analyse and discuss the issues covered on Chapter 24. The focus of the first session of this WG, is the new migration strategy and the role of Albania and the EU in facing the challenges of migration.
Rovena Voda, the Deputy-Minister of Interior considered the event an important element which will positively impact on raising the public awareness on the subject of migration and its implications. According to Ms. Voda, Working Group II together with the experts by providing recommendations, will improve the work of the ministry and therefore such recommendation will be taken into account, at the same time how the European Union’s recommendations are taken. Deputy- Minister evaluated the adoption of the new Cross-cutting Strategy and the new Action Plan on Migration, as a success. This publication comes for the first time in this format and has structured how it will be operated under the current conditions and new situation, where there has been an increase in number of emigration and asylum seekers. This strategy and action plan aims to raise awareness on immigration; determine the measures that needs to be taken to cope with the increase numbers of asylum seekers in Albania; aims to create a new methodology for coping with the situation; and is expected to have a positive impact on stopping human trafficking and promoting the respect for human rights through new migration policies. Four areas have been identified in this context to enable a comprehensive migration governance policy: 1) strategic governance of migration by Albanian institutions; 2) safe and regular migration from, through and to Albania; 3) effective employment migration policies and the impact of migration on local development; 4) integration of migrants and protection of their rights.
Petra Achbergerová, the Slovak expert, specialist of the Office of Migration at the Slovak Ministry of Interior made an approach to the situation in Slovakia and the problems faced by the increasing number of migrants especially from Ukraine but also the problem of citizens’ perception concerning asylum seekers. Slovakia remains one of the EU countries with the smallest number of foreigners, with only 2.63% of the population being foreigners, of which 1.05% are citizens of another EU country. Also, asylum applications starting from 2014 until today do not exceed 300 applications per year, which is not a significant number, with more than 70% of them being denied the refugee status. Slovakia’s latest strategy was published for a period of 9 years (2011-2020), with its update for 2020, which sets out the approach they will follow towards migration while the work plan is changeable and a new one is adopted each year, depending on the migration situation. Important for the Slovak expert is the preparation of a harmonized national legislation with the one of the EU and to increase the capacity building. In the Slovak case, some measures were taken to make sure that an effective process of harmonization would be implemented.. First, there was a gradual process of harmonization; assistance and expertise was received from other EU countries through Twinning programs; The changes and updates of the EU legislation were monitored, with a special focus on the decisions of the European Court of Justice; the peculiarities of the country’s: history; capacity; preparation and structure were taken into consideration during this process, in order to enable a better alignment of European legislation with that of Slovakia. Mrs. Achbergerova brought attention to organizing and implementing a public communication strategy and informative campaigns, about issues related to migration, citizens’ rights and obligations, information on free movement and regular migration, etc.
Representatives from the Migration Sector at the Ministry of Interior in Albania had an active participation and further explained the migration strategy. The Migration Office under the Ministry of Interior will act according to the new action plan and the new strategy implementation of which is being composed by the technical secretariat which will take care of the plan implementation; and the technical committee that is responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the strategy. The Ministry of Interior will be monitoring the strategy and will formulate policies within this strategy. Currently there are two migration specialists as part of the Migration Sector while this sector cooperates with the anti-trafficking sector at the Ministry of Interior. In order to monitor the strategy and its implementation, a 6-month report is prepared in coordination with other structures and other actors. This report is then submitted to the Secretariat and forwarded to the relevant authorities.
During this session suggestions and recommendations were raised on monitoring tools of the strategy, measures to be taken and lessons learned regarding the process of harmonization of national legislation; and increase of coordination and cooperation between local structures with the international and the European ones.