Lessons learnt from ICMPD Global Initiatives for the EU Migration and Asylum Pact

The intention of the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum is to offer a “fresh start” for a system that manages and “normalises” migration.  In the introduction, migration is framed as a “feature of human history” that brings growth, innovation and social dynamism, a vision fully embraced and promoted by the Global Initiatives Programme at ICMPD.

The Pact was introduced as a “house with three floors”, with one entirely devoted to the external dimension: partnerships and migration diplomacy. This ‘floor’ includes tested tools as well as new instruments to be materialised in the months ahead. In order to make the most of this new impetus and enthusiasm to translate the Pact into action, we must learn from previous experiences, both successes and shortcomings.

I therefore take this opportunity to share some good practices and success stories from the last 10 years of projects on migration run under the Global Initiatives Programme of ICMPD. They could inform the new generation of tools that will be essential for effective operationalisation of the Pact.

Partnerships – a more ambitious ‘tried and true’ approach

The leitmotif of ‘partnership’ was put at the heart of the external dimension in 2005. It has evolved over the years and under the ‘fresh start’ of this Pact, the intention is to forge and pursue “comprehensive, balanced and tailor-made partnerships.”

The 2018 independent evaluation of several EU Mobility Partnerships carried out by the Maastricht University and commissioned by the DG HOME-ICMPD Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF), found that to yield better results, the future migration partnerships should be predicated on a number of ‘success factors’:

  • Sufficient shared interests which all stakeholders can collaboratively pursue
  • Clear and well-defined objectives, including a balanced thematic approach
  • Constant adaptation to the local context, strategic vision and direction
  • Clearly defined roles of all actors involved and a robust governance structure
  • Sufficient resources, monitoring and evaluation tools


As its title entails, the MPF becomes even more relevant in light of the Pact, representing an incubator of ideas that can identify, advance and support partnerships, most notably on the topic of Talent Partnerships.   

Legal migration through Talent Partnerships

From a Global Initiatives’ perspective, it is invigorating to see that the EU Migration Pact proposes Talent Partnerships to “boost international mobility”.

Since 2018, MPF has laid the ground and pioneered the implementation of pilot projects on legal migration that have already established partnerships between Belgium, France, Lithuania and Spain with several countries in North Africa, as well as with Nigeria. As a flexible and rapid-reaction mechanism, MPF is well placed to further accompany the EU in designing and implementing the Talent Partnerships, both through knowledge and innovative ideas and its operational ‘powerhouse’ that finances partnerships on legal/labour migration.

Moving ahead, the MPF’s experience suggests that the Talent Partnerships would need to consider the following critical aspects:

  • Bridging the gap and building bridges between the public and private sectors by addressing their mandates, needs, motivations, expectations and interests
  • Focusing on skilling, reskilling, upskilling and education
  • Involving a wide range of actors (chambers of commerce, business associations, diaspora, social partners, etc.) from the countries of origin and destination
  • Ensuring flexibility and adaptability to and within partnerships, also based on research, labour market developments, the dynamics of the private sector, monitoring and evaluation
  • Generating institutional and policy coherence and synergies among various sectors and migration policy areas
  • Building governance structures involving all the actors concerned and designed to arbitrate their interests 


Capacity building for cooperation with partner countries

It is encouraging to see that in the Pact, capacity building features as an important enabler for migration policies and partnerships for migration governance and management. The vast experience of the ongoing Joint EU - ICMPD MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX+) Initiative, created in 2008 to operationalise the Global Approach to Migration (and, later on, Mobility), attests that capacity building is a suitable tool of cooperation and migration diplomacy.  

MIEUX+ has learned that to increase its effectiveness capacity building should:

  • Be embedded within local governance structures
  • Include as many relevant stakeholders as possible (whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach)
  • Target multiple institutional processes (e.g. policy making, data management)
  • Stimulate the identification of solutions cutting across sectors (policy coherence) through peer-to-peer interactions

MIEUX+ puts these lessons into each of its actions and is well suited to support the implementation of the EU Migration Pact by mobilising its unique knowledge on how to advance and sustain partnerships, develop policies and enhance migration governance in a balanced way.


Recognition for diaspora potential, yet more decisive actions are needed

As the EU Migration Pact intends to be inclusive in its implementation, it is commendable that the role of diaspora is explicitly acknowledged and that diaspora mobilisation features as a concrete step of cooperation.

The DG DEVCO-ICMPD EU Global Diaspora Facility (EUDiF)  consultations with diaspora organisations in different regions of the EU offer policy-makers solid evidence of how to support diaspora to fulfil their full potential, become closer allies and stronger partners to deliver on the Pact. The EU should:

  • Reinforce diaspora organisation capacities (management, financial, institutional)
  • Invest in umbrella organisations, platforms and networks
  • Promote and recognise the important work of diaspora
  • Provide diaspora with tools, including technologies, to optimise their activities
  • Support diaspora efforts to respond to crises, including COVID-19, as part of solutions and recovery

Launched on 7 October 2020, the EUDiF Capacity Development Labs and Diaspora Mobilisation Scheme  represent a much-needed starting point in maximising diaspora potential for the Pact. EUDiF works to catalyse and generate networks, partnerships, knowledge and action – all essential ingredients to build bridges between diaspora and governments and to empower and mobilise diasporas, under the Pact.

Migration contributes to development

Well managed migration spearheads growth, human and social development, both within and beyond the EU. Being cognizant of this, the Pact intends to support partner countries in devising migration policies that “work well” and “effective migration governance”. For this to happen, the enabling environment at local, national and regional level  require further adjustment and improvements based on a ‘3I approach’:

  • INSTITUTIONS - entailing inclusive participation, strong governance, institutional and policy coherence, with clear ‘rules of engagement
  • INTERESTS – addressing the power relations between actors, understanding and management of expectations, priorities and needs within partnerships
  • IDEAS – knowledge, values, evidence, innovation, solutions, that the actors bring to partnerships

Ultimately, achieving the objectives related to the external dimension of migration and asylum in the Pact will be contingent upon meaningful implementation. Partnerships should be practiced with ambition, trust-building and discipline.

Furnishing this ‘floor’ of the house has great potential and offers opportunities and I encourage practitioners to consider the tested and innovative experiences of the Global Initiatives Programme when establishing new and renegotiating existing partnerships whilst striving to scale up those well-oiled initiatives that are already offering solutions, flexibility, networks and exchange of knowledge.  

The ICMPD Global Initiatives Programmes


EU Global Diaspora Facility (EUDiF) is a pilot project funded by the European Union’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) under the Development Cooperation Instrument. The project runs from June 2019 until the end of 2022 and is implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).


MIgration EU eXpertise+ (MIEUX+) is an EU-funded initiative supports regional organisations, national ministries, local authorities, parliamentary bodies, judicial actors, and civil society organisations in improving the governance and management of migration and mobility.


The Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF) is an EU-funded initiative contributing to the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The MPF aims to strengthen the European Union (EU) dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility issues with its main partner countries in this area.