1. What is the status of the Belgian EMN National Contact Point?
A Belgian National Contact Point was set up in the early stages of the development of the European Migration Network (EMN) and participated in the pilot project and preparatory action as from 2003.
On 14 May 2008, the EMN was established with a legal base through the Council Decision 2008/381/EC. This Decision states that “the EMN should be supported by a ‘National Contact Point’ in each Member State” and further provides that “To ensure that the National Contact Points have the necessary expertise to deal with the multifaceted aspects of migration and asylum issues, they should be composed of at least three experts who, individually or jointly, have competences in policymaking, law, research and statistics. These experts could come from the Member States’ administrations or from any other organisation.”
In accordance with this Decision, the former Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy decided on 1 November 2008 to set up a multi-institutional National Contact Point, which is currently composed of three institutions, namely the Immigration Office, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons and the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism.
2. How is the Belgian EMN National Contact Point financed?
Based on an individual grant application submitted annually to the European Commission, up to 80% of the costs of the Belgian National Contact Point are supported by the EU’s general budget in accordance with Council Regulation N° 1605/2002.
The remainder of the costs is supported by the Immigration Office, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of the National Contact Point. In addition to this, the three organizations which take part in the National Contact Point, namely the Immigration Office, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons and the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, all seconded staff members.
3. Who may be part of the National Migration Network?
The Council Decision of 14 May 2008 stipulates that “The National Contact Points shall… establish a national migration network, composed of a wide-range of organisations and individuals active in the area of migration and asylum and representing relevant stakeholders”.
According to this Decision, the Belgian National Contact Point has been developing contacts and cooperating with a variety of key actors active in the field of asylum and migration in Belgium, including advisors to Cabinets (of the Minister of Employment and Equal Opportunities, of the State Secretary of Asylum, Migration, Integration and the Fight Against Poverty), staff members in Federal Public Services (Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, etc.), researchers in Universities (Free University of Brussels - ULB VUB, Catholic University of Louvain - UCL, Catholic University of Leuven - KUL, University of Antwerp - UA, University of Ghent - UGent, etc.) and other Study Centres (Odysseus Network, etc.), representatives from Non-Governmental and other Organizations (CIRE, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, Belgian Refugee Council, etc.) and Regional Offices of International Organizations (UNHCR Belgium, IOM Brussels, etc.).
With a view to collect expertise in the area of asylum and migration, to share information and views on various aspects of policy making, law, research as well as statistics, the Belgian National Migration Network is open and may involve any actor (entity as well as individual expert) active in this field who is willing to contribute and participate in EMN activities (reports, studies, ad hoc queries, events, etc.).
Please contact us should you want to investigate cooperation opportunities with EMN Belgium.
4. How are EMN annual work programmes adopted?
National Contact Points (NCPs) are being consulted at the occasion of EMN NCP Meetings to prepare annual work programmes (including indicative amounts of the minimum and maximum budget for each EMN NCP), which are then approved by the Steering Board (in accordance with Article 4(5a) of the Council Decision 2008/381/EC) and then formally adopted by the Commission.
EMN Work Programmes:
- Determine and further elaborate on the implementation of priorities of action
- Detail activities (including networking, ad hoc queries, reports and studies, collection, comparability and provision of information, visibility and coordination) to be implemented by the EMN NCPs and the Commission, assisted by Service Providers
- Provide an overview and timetable of EMN deliverables
- Include budgetary provisions for the implementation of above mentioned activities
Progress made towards the activities envisaged in the EMN Work Programme is reviewed during EMN NCP and Steering Board Meetings.
5. How are EMN study topics selected?
Each year, the EMN, as part of the preparation of its Work Programme for the following year, organises a selection process of studies addressing specific themes of relevance to policy developments. These have included, for example, studies on unaccompanied minors, assisted return, labour migration and irregular migration.
In April each year, the Commission and National Contact Points (NCPs) present and discuss EU policy priorities, including recent and anticipated developments, as well as specific national perspectives and situations.
Between April and July, study topic proposers (either the Commission or a single NCP or several EMN NCPs working collaboratively) draft and elaborate study proposals. The topics proposed must be relevant to and in conformity with the EMN's mandate and objective of providing information to support policymaking in the EU. Initial questions, comments and suggestions are shared and discussed.
In July, second drafts are circulated and EMN NCPs, in collaboration with their EMN Steering Board member and other stakeholders as appropriate, rank up to seven proposals into order of preference.
In September, a comparative table of weighted ranking is discussed at the EMN NCP Meeting and a draft paper is prepared for submission to the Steering Board.
Mid October, a paper setting out seven priority topics and other proposals is sent to the Steering Board which selects up to two topics to be included in the following year’s programme.
6. Who can draft and contribute to EMN reports and studies published by the Belgian National Contact Point?
EMN National Contact Points liaise with their partners and national network members at several possible stages:
- To prepare reports and studies related concept paper and common specifications
- To draft and produce national reports and studies
- To comment and review synthesis reports
- To disseminate the above mentioned products
Subject to the topic at stake, the needs and circumstances of each product as well as the resources and priorities of the National Contact Points as well as partners and network members, internal and/or external resources are rallied.
At the stage of research and actual drafting of reports and studies, the following contributors may be involved:
- The staff members of the National Contact Point themselves
- Colleagues from various federal public services
- Subcontractors selected through an open invitation tendering
Once national reports and studies are drafted, the Commission and service providers are responsible for producing comparative synthesis reports that National Contact Points and National Network Members are invited and encouraged to further review and comment.
At all stages, the Belgian National Contact Point is eager to obtain comments, views and inputs from a wide-range of actors active in the field and to discuss the quality and use of such products.
7. Who can take the initiative of launching an Ad Hoc Query?
Ad hoc queries are a way for the EMN to respond quickly to the information needs for the development of a particular policy by a Member State and/or the European Commission. Ad Hoc queries cover aspects linked to both migration and asylum policy. Themes most frequently addressed include protection, residence, economic migration and return, but also the application of EU Acquis and other themes such as family reunification, illegal migration, borders and visas.
Each EMN NCP and the Commission may launch an Ad-Hoc Query, with the possibility to address the query to a subset of Member States if this is more relevant to the information required.
A National Network Member may also request, directly to their respective EMN NCP, to launch an Ad-Hoc Query. The topic and content of the query should first be discussed with the EMN NCP to determine in particular whether the information requested falls within the remit of the EMN and to avoid duplication of requests for the same information (either within EMN or elsewhere - e.g. Eurasil, National Contact Points on Integration, Permanent Representations).