SOLIDAR network participated in International Conference on EU migration and refugee policy

The SOLIDAR network participated in an international migration conference organized by the Willi-Eichler-Akademie eV with the Gustav-Stresemann-Institut (GSI) on 1 July 2022, in Bonn. The conference addressed urgent issues on migration in Europe in its complexity and reflected on recommendations for orderly EU (European Union) immigration, asylum, and protection policies. 


The conference on Migration is a unique and timely opportunity for members of progressive civil society, refugees, international organisations, academicians, national and EU level politicians, and experts to debate EU migration, asylum, and refugee policies. On this basis, four different panels are organized to allow participants to jointly think and discuss the future of these policies. The following panels took place at the conference namely, 

  • The right to asylum is non-negotiable 

  • Eastern Europe and the question of migration, then and now 

  • Legal Aspects of Migration, Global Justice? 

  • We are people, and we will stay. 

SOLIDAR Secretariat was happy to take part in discussions with a delegation of members from all over Europe: Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana – ARCI (Italy), Initiative for Development Cooperation - IDC (Serbia), Movimiento por la Paz – MPDL (Spain), Center for Peace Studies – CMS (Croatia). The members of SOLIDAR took part in the following panels to talk about their fieldwork and address the current urgent issues. 


Panel 1: 

The right to asylum is non-negotiable 

The freedom of movement and the right to liberty of a person are fundamental rights. These essential rights apply to everyone and people seeking protection in Europe have the right to seek for asylum. However, these rights are under severe violations. In this panel, the discussions involved the realities and practices at EU's borders, particularly on pushbacks, new walls, reception centers, and legal certainty with the participation of representatives from civil society organizations and the European, UN and German politicians.  

Anne van Lancker , president of SOLIDAR, reminded that seeking asylum is a human right, therefore it is our responsibility to respect and ensure access to asylum mechanisms for everyone. On this basis, the EU with the Member States must build a fair system to allocate the responsibility for dealing with asylum seekers instead of leaving it to a few frontline countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain. Anne van Lancker also explained that the normalization of illegal pushbacks and criminalization of people standing in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers are worrying and such acts of violation must stop immediately. 

Sara Kekuš, Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) talked about the systematic pushbacks and racism at the Croatian external borders against people seeking asylum. Following the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD), the quick acceptance of Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression puts a spotlight on different treatment for migrants fleeing persecution from Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere. CMS calls on authorities to put an end to illegal pushbacks and violence against people at the EU borders by highlighting the fact that people coming from different countries need help as much as Ukrainian nationals 


Panel 2: 

Eastern Europe and the question of migration, then and now 

Since the end of the Second World War, migration to Europe unfolded in several waves. These waves document that immigration or asylum seeking is not unusual for Europe and its societies. In this panel, the speakers discussed the attitude of the Eastern European EU states towards immigration in general and tackled the existing problems. The following message was conveyed by IDC, a member of SOLIDAR during this session, 

Milena Sošić , Lawyer, Initiative for Development Cooperation – IDC, shared her concerns regarding the different treatments happening in the Member States such as Polish authorities accepting only Christians, not other ethnicities. Sošić also highlighted that under all international treaties' refugees should be accepted in host countries, and the provision of the legal framework and effective protection must be ensured for smooth integration. In addition, the anti-migration policy and ethnic profiling at the EU's external borders of Serbia and Croatia against people fleeing persecution are not acceptable. 


Panel 3: 

Legal Aspects of Migration, Global Justice? 

Refugees, politicians, and civil society representatives shared their first-hand experiences in accessing fundamental rights, provision of social assistance and their struggle seeking justice during this panel. The panellists also tackled different legal aspects of migration, sanctions, and human rights violations anywhere in the world with a view to finding solutions and safe channels through legal pathways under international law.  

Luis Cortes , MPDL, talked about current European migration policies that are not fair, safe, and responsible: double standards push back at external borders, unsustainable partnerships with third non-democratic countries, among other consequences. In sum, Human Rights are at risk. He highlighted the fact that the establishment of a new migration model in Europe, which respects fundamental rights and social justice is inevitable. He concluded his intervention by putting emphasis on the significance of a long-term vision for migration and global justice.  

On the other hand, Giovanni Vanore , ARCI shed a light on the importance of ensuring access to fundamental rights and social assistance for migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers (MRAs) in Italy as part of their work. The provision of assistance and access to rights are also essential elements for smooth and quick integration for MRAs to build a sustainable life. In addition, although establishing and strengthening ties with CSOs is fundamental for solidarity, Giovanni also reminded that the provision of such services should not only be on the shoulders of CSOs. Considering CSOs limited resources and financial means, thus the provision of such services is ensured by the states in collaboration with CSOs. 


Panel 4: 

We are people, and we will stay 

As discussed in the first panel, access to essential rights for everyone is fundamental to ensure efficient integration and inclusion of migrants in the host countries. In this panel, the speakers from diverse backgrounds and with lived experiences discussed the alarming developments in the overall social climate surrounding MRAs' rights. The panellists highlighted that ongoing racism and discrimination against vulnerable groups are worrisome. Such acts lead to further isolation and prevent the establishment of interaction between people in host countries. One approach to changing prejudice toward migrants stated as by changing the social discourse and rhetoric through education. In addition, the speakers emphasized the necessity of new ways of integration and inclusion in host countries by taking previous experiences into the account.  


SOLIDAR was grateful to take part in the conference with its members and meet other progressive civil society representatives, refugees, experts, academicians, and politicians. The conference on migration was a unique opportunity for SOLIDAR to listen to participants' interactive discussion on current EU immigration and refugee policies; developments and sustainable ways forward to ensure efficient inclusion of migrants. In addition, SOLIDAR members shared their experiences and challenges regarding the inclusion of migrants in their respective countries and addressed urgent issues. 



This activity has been executed in the framework of the project ''Realising Social Europe For All and With All'' with the financial support of the European Union, through the EaSI strand of the ESF+ programme.