IOM to Portuguese EU Presidency: Reform of Migration Policy Key to Recovery

On 1 January 2021, Portugal assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). Photo: European Union 

Brussels – As 2021 begins with a promising COVID-19 vaccine in sight, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) encourages the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) to advance an ambitious, forward-looking reform of European migration policy that engenders recovery from the pandemic and long-term resilience. 

In recommendations to the Presidency released today (15/01), IOM outlines four targeted policy proposals that highlight well-managed human mobility and community-centred actions as key contributors to achieving a global, digital, safe and resilient Europe.  

“Our recommendations converge on the view that integrating migration and reimagining mobility across sectors – including health, climate, development and the digital agenda – can help us build back from the pandemic and strengthen our approach to the challenges on the horizon,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.  

“It is crucial – for migrants and societies alike – that the Presidency advances negotiations to realise the key principles of the Pact on Migration and Asylum put forward by the European Commission last September,” IOM’s Director General said.  

Finding ways to facilitate human mobility and cross-border trade in a coordinated way will be essential to recovery from the COVID-19 engendered economic downturn. It will also enable migrants to continue to contribute to the longer-term, sustainable development of countries of origin and host countries alike.  

IOM, therefore, encourages the Portuguese Presidency to adapt immigration and border management schemes in a coordinated, health-sensitive and future-oriented way. The EU’s transformation towards a Digital Europe can spearhead the rollout of innovative digital tools that support migration processes, enhance security and protection of identity, and provide contactless passage that reduces sanitary risks. 

“Collectively investing in and coordinating global health security across borders and sectors will be key to ensuring that no country is disconnected from global human mobility in the future," stressed DG Vitorino.  

At the same time, the EU’s relationship with African partners can be enhanced by supporting border management capacity building, which helps facilitate intra-regional mobility in Africa and boost economic prosperity.   

IOM stresses that EU development cooperation should not be made contingent on returns and readmission, nor prioritized based on the EU’s internal policy interests alone. Instead, it will be important to promote the systematic inclusion of reintegration assistance as a force for stability in communities of return and as a bridge between migrant return and sustainable development.  

IOM also stresses the importance of strengthening safe and legal pathways for protection. To demonstrate solidarity with partner countries, IOM calls for a dialogue among EU Member States to increase resettlement and relocation efforts within a durable and predictable European framework. 

Finally, a Resilient Europe will rely on flexible and accessible skills-based migration channels that are mutually beneficial, target migrants at all skill levels, and protect their rights. IOM believes it will be equally important to strengthen cohesion in European societies and communities by advancing the integration of migrants through broader social inclusion.  

Director General Vitorino stressed that successful recovery, and beyond, will depend on how well we include people on the move in our planning. “Today, for example, this means including migrants in EU and national COVID-19 vaccination programming to ensure the health and safety of all,” he said.  

“IOM stands ready to support the Presidency, the EU and its Member States to recover better cooperatively to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.” 

IOM's full recommendations can be downloaded here.  

For more information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels, Tel: +32 495 25 02 34, Email: 

About IOM 

Founded 70 years ago in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. With 173 member states and presence in over 100 countries, IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. The Organization works with its partners in the international community to assist in meeting the operational challenges of migration, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration and to uphold the well-being and human rights of all migrants.