Doc. 9285

4 December 2001

Transit migration in central and eastern Europe

Recommendation 1489 (2001)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 774th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (27 November 2001)

The Committee of Ministers has made a careful study of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1489 (2001) on transit migration in central and eastern Europe, and has brought it to the attention of its member states’ governments so that they may take note of the recommendations made to them.

The Committee of Ministers has also communicated this Recommendation to the European Committee on Migration (CDMG), instructing it to prepare an opinion on the text. The CDMG’s opinion, which the Committee of Ministers fully endorses, is appended to this reply.

The Committee of Ministers also wishes to mention the work undertaken at pan-European level to combat trafficking in human beings, particularly under the Stability Pact, with the holding of an international seminar on “Co-ordinated action against trafficking in human beings in south-eastern Europe: towards a regional action plan” (Athens, 29 June-1 July 2000), in partnership with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and in co-operation with OSCE/ODIHR and the International Organisation for Migration. The main points of a regional action plan were drawn up and adopted at the seminar and a compendium of the main legal instruments and analytical reports on trafficking in human beings at international, national and regional level was compiled.

The Committee of Ministers also draws attention to the contribution made by the Directorate General of Human Rights, in co-operation with the Directorate General of Legal Affairs, to the aims of the Stability Pact’s Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings and Initiative against Organised Crime (SPOC), in the form of a pilot project in Romania and Moldova. The project, entitled “criminal law reform on trafficking in human beings in south-eastern Europe”, aims to ensure that trafficking is effectively made a criminal offence at regional level and to secure appropriate protection of the victims’ human rights. The project is currently confined to the two above-mentioned member states, but will eventually be extended to the whole of south-east Europe in order to ensure a regional approach, while due account shall be taken of individual countries’ co-operation with the European Union and within the framework of other international structures. A regional conference is to be held in Belgrade on 23 and 24 November 2001 to discuss the implementation of this enlargement. It is planned to step up activities in 2002, notably under the Programme against Corruption and Organised Crime in South-Eastern Europe (PACO).

The Committee of Ministers wishes to assure the Assembly that the activities connected with the concerns expressed in Recommendation 1489 (2001) will rank high in the draft programme of activities for 2002, which is very soon to be adopted by the Committee of Ministers.

Appendix

Opinion of the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1489(2001)

In response to the ad hoc terms of reference given to it by the Committee of Ministers in Decision No.CM/773/07022001, the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) adopted the following Opinion on the above-mentioned Recommendation, in particular concerning the recommendations made in paragraph 8.i. to v.:

1.        The CDMG welcomes the Assembly’s recommendation addressed to the Committee of Ministers, the member States and the European Union for the sake of closer co-operation on the issue of transit migration in Central and Eastern Europe, including discussions on legal opportunities for migration. The last issue has been one of its long-standing concerns, which led in 1995 to the adoption of a report on “Temporary migration for employment and training purposes and relevant international agreements”. In the framework of this activity, the CDMG collected information about existing bilateral agreements and other arrangements providing for various forms of short-term migration. It reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of different types of agreements and arrangements and considered whether they were achieving their objectives. The CDMG also considered the scope for further development of such migration, taking into account the interests of all the States concerned, and drew up guidelines for the legal protection of short-term migrants and for the practical implementation of arrangements for short-term migration. This activity constituted a major step forward in the efforts to manage migration flows in Europe.

2.        The CDMG and its subordinate expert committees hold regular exchanges of views among representatives of member States as well as observer organisations including the social partners on the development of the labour market and immigrants’ possibilities for integration into it.

3.        As concerns the state of co-operation between the Council of Europe member states in combating illegal migration and trafficking in aliens with a view to strengthening it, the CDMG was asked by the European Ministers responsible for migration affairs to develop a comprehensive approach to migration in Europe and to help define principles for orderly migration movements into and within Europe. This led to the adoption of a new management strategy based on the principles of orderliness, protection, integration and co-operation which was thoroughly examined on the occasion of a seminar bringing together government experts and a number of invited specialists from the academic world.

4.        The Council of Europe in co-operation with the Greek government has organised a Conference on “Irregular migration and dignity of migrants: co-operation in the Mediterranean region” which took place in Athens on 3 and 4 October 2001. The aim of the Conference was to instigate co-operation between member States and also between member States and other countries of origin in the field of irregular migration and:

-       to evaluate the situation in European countries on the basis of the report “Towards a migration management strategy”;

-       to examine the efficiency of management strategies and of policies for possible prevention;

-       to examine with some States of North Africa and with other partners the possibilities for co-operation and action against the main causes of irregular migration in the countries of origin, whilst respecting human rights and the human dignity of migrants.

This conference constitutes the first step in a dialogue with countries of origin and transit and will in the near future be followed by similar events in other European regions, including Central and Eastern Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is closely associated with this activity.