IOM Welcomes Proposals for a New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum

The future of migration can be manageable under a comprehensive, protection and rights-based, whole-of-route approach grounded in partnerships and cooperation. Photo: IOM

Geneva, Brussels – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the arrival of the much-anticipated proposals comprising a future European Union (EU) Pact on Migration and Asylum presented on Wednesday (23-09) by the European Commission. IOM is pleased to see affirmation in the package that migration and mobility can be manageable under a comprehensive, rights-based, whole-of-route approach grounded in partnerships and cooperation.

“While we have yet to assess it in detail, the proposal is a notable starting point that covers many dimensions of a complex, broad and often divisive issue,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General. “It clearly recognizes that no one country can manage migration and mobility alone or in isolation. We remain optimistic that an international approach can become a positive reality for both migrants and societies.”

IOM will be closely following the upcoming discussions over the proposals and believes that the challenges and opportunities of international migration and mobility must unite rather than divide us if we are to collectively achieve safe, orderly and regular migration across the entire migration cycle.

The complexity of the proposed framework reflects the nature of migration governance itself. Ensuring policy consistency and coherence amongst the sheer number of stakeholders invested in its effective management, while essential, is likely to pose significant challenges.

It will also be important for the EU and its Member States to agree on longer-term policy that is truly coherent in its internal and external aspects, rooted in genuine partnerships, grounded in human rights and aligned with existing international frameworks and agreements. 

IOM appreciates the vision and the innovations that have been presented in the Pact, but it leaves open several questions about implementation which will need careful and thorough consideration.

IOM encourages the EU to strive for balance between EU priorities such as returns and readmission, and issues that go to the heart of other states’ perspectives such as enhanced mobility and legal migration channels. We reiterate our call on the EU to revitalize and demonstrate a genuine spirit of partnership and mutual support that considers the realities of migration, particularly in Africa with regard to free movement, and the priorities and needs of African countries. In this regard, dialogue through the Valletta process between the EU and African countries and the AU-EU-UN Taskforce on Libya are rightly seen as best practices to replicate and reinforce.

The Organization applauds the Commission’s position that search and rescue, and saving lives at sea, is not optional. It is both a moral duty and an international obligation, and should not be criminalized. The Pact outline also recognizes the importance of predictable disembarkation in a place of safety. However, we continue to strongly encourage EU agreement and action to increase resources and reinstate an EU-led search and rescue capacity.

IOM is pleased to see recognition in the proposal of the importance of a common approach to voluntary returns with more harmonized procedures, complementarity with other sectors and links to the external dimension and reintegration. IOM will continue to offer steadfast support to assisted voluntary returns and reintegration programmes, drawing on its long-standing global experience. A comprehensive, integrated approach to return must also include measures to promote sustainable reintegration that caters to the needs of returnees and local communities alike.  

On the way forward, IOM would like to see a clearer delineation between safe channels such as legal migration for work, and pathways for international protection such as resettlement, which should remain a high priority in its own right with greater commitments from EU Member States. Emphasis on relocation of asylum seekers and vulnerable groups within Europe should be sustained. Concerning regular labour migration, IOM welcomes the fact that the Pact addresses migrant skills and attracting talent through partnerships and that it acknowledges the reality that Europe needs migrants.

Most migration – including to the EU – happens in a safe and regular way, contributing to growth and dynamism when well managed.  We have seen repeatedly how people on the move, when integrated and their rights are upheld, can be part of the solutions needed in our societies.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of this collective endeavour, uniting the forces of EU Member States and Institutions, partner countries, international organizations and the United Nations.” said Vitorino. “IOM looks forward to continued cooperation with the EU and all partner countries in the shared interest of better governing migration with the commitment to leave no one behind.”

For more information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM in Brussels, + 32 492 25 02 34,