Exchange Visit with IOM Beijing on Measures to Address Return and Reintegration of Migrants Returned from the EU

From 22 to 25 October 2016, IOM Beijing conducted a study visit for high level Chinese officials to Belgium to exchange information on the return and reintegration of irregular migrants, as well as the characteristics of readmission agreements. The visit was carried out within the framework of the “EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Project”, funded by the Partnership Instrument of the EU and was preceded by a visit to the Netherlands and France.

The delegation was led by Mr. PANG Shuqiang, Deputy Director-General Bureau of the Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security, and included Deputy Directors of the Division of Exit and Entry Administration for Chinese Citizens, the Division of Exit and Entry Administration for Aliens, and the Division of International Cooperation. In addition, two officials from the Department of Consular Affairs and the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was part of the delegation.

In Belgium, the Chinese delegation first met with the Director of the Policy Department of Fedasil Ms. Fanny François, and with the Head of AVR Mr. Peter Neelen. They learned about the evolution and challenges of reception policy in Belgium, the Belgian reception structure and the mandate of Fedasil.

Mr. Neelen provided information about the vision and mission of AVRR, the referral system in Belgium, the different steps of the AVRR programme, and the cooperation with partners to assist the return and reintegration of migrants. The Chinese delegation shared its practical experiences in piloting an AVRR programme in China and discussed the possible communication techniques to inform potential migrants about AVR.

The delegation also had a meeting with the Immigration Office (IO) of the FPS, Home Affairs, hosted by Director General, Mr. Freddy Roosemont. Mr. PANG emphasized that the cooperation with the Belgian (IO) was very fruitful and the bilateral cooperation was the most successful model amongst all the EU MS. The Belgian side highlighted the trends of illegal foreign migrants and procedures of forced return. The Chinese delegation mentioned that both China and Belgium had similarities in identifying irregular migrants and relevant repatriation procedures.  Both sides expressed that identification of irregular migrants was difficult, a process which requires close cooperation and support from foreign embassies. Both sides agreed that inter-agency coordination and cooperation mechanism on return was paramount.

This exchange visit was very successful and productive in strengthening mutual exchanges, and understanding on return and readmission between the EU and China. Through active and detailed discussions, Chinese and European officials enhanced their knowledge and deepened their understanding on respective policies, approaches, systems related to identification and return of irregular migrants, as well as readmission agreements with third countries. Further, it created a very good network and platform for future information sharing on irregular migration between European and Chinese immigration organizations. Moreover, it provided a good opportunity for the Chinese delegation to reflect on China’s needs to strengthen its network and inter-agency cooperation to handle the issue of irregular migration.

The delegation emphasized that this visit helped them to better understand the European, system, policies and approaches on return and reintegration, which laid a solid foundation for future cooperation in implementing the return and readmission agreements.