ReSOMA by IMISCOE – Selected policy topics for the evidence-based dialogue

21 July 2021

The Research Social Platform on Migration and Asylum (ReSOMA) is IMISCOE’s evidence-based platform fostering sustained, regular policy dialogue between European stakeholders and researchers and facilitating evidence-based policymaking.

ReSOMA and the four topics for the research-social-policy dialogue

Launched in 2018 as a H2020 project, in 2020 ReSOMA has been integrated into IMISCOE as part of the Migration Research Hub with the aim of creating new opportunities for policy-relevant consultation around key topics.

Each year, ReSOMA identifies a number of salient policy topics in the areas of asylum, migration and integration where EU-level decisions are likely to be taken and where there is available evidence coming from the stakeholders and researchers’ community.

At the end of a 6-month feedback loop between European researchers and stakeholders, ReSOMA has identified four key policy topics on which it will promote regular exchanges around evidence:

  • Mainstreaming migrants' needs into the policy responses to COVID19. COVID19 has disproportionally affected migrant communities - in terms of employment, exposure to health risks and education - with major setbacks for integration outcomes. Has the policy response of Member States and the EU been sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of migrant communities? Do government mainstream these specific needs in their emergency measures and crisis policies (labour market, health, education etc), to ensure equal access to the support provided? Have targeted integration programmes been maintained during the crisis, are there new openings for innovative virtual solutions? Is there a role for the crisis response coordinated at EU-level in making sure that migrants' specific needs and vulnerabilities are addressed in fighting the pandemic's impact and in the upcoming post-crisis economic and social recovery?

  • Anti-racism. Since 2020 the societal debate around racism and the Europe's colonial heritage is gaining momentum. This enhanced grassroots, political and institutional attention to structural racism in Europe is an opportunity for the EU to change course and provide meaningful policy answers. Against this background, the EU has launched a EU Anti-racism Action Plan proposing several measures that range from reviewing current EU policies to adopting new policy measures and funding programmes to combat racism and discrimination in access to services. At the same time, the Action Plan focuses on addressing structural racism within European society and EU institutions. What is the role of researchers and community stakeholders, including migrants, in advancing the EU antiracism agenda? How can they be involved in this topic, particularly on monitoring and assessing current and future policy and practice across Europe?

  • Criminalisation of humanitarian assistance. European Union (EU) and national policies are increasingly affecting civil society organisations and individuals who provide humanitarian assistance and access to rights to undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. As documented by the ReSOMA collaborative research, new criminalisation trends emerged in the context of the so-called “European refugee humanitarian crisis” aiming to punish the facilitation of entry and residence of irregular immigrants in the Member States. This is often due to the unclear distinction between what is and is not smuggling, humanitarian assistance and financial gain. As a result, EU and national policies tend to hinder the movement and operations of NGOs providing humanitarian assistance by means of legal restrictions and administrative penalties. ReSOMA aims to further monitor criminalisation cases and threats while highlighting the litigation strategies used and their outcomes. In particular, it aims at documenting the great diversity in the guidelines and arguments used by lawyers, legal systems and national governments to address and avoid criminalisation.

  • Enhancing safe and legal pathways to Europe. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum calls on further international cooperation with third countries to address migrant and refugee movements to Europe. Cooperation includes the so-called “legal pathways to protection”, such as resettlement and community sponsorship schemes, and “labour mobility schemes”, such as European and national programmes to attract high-skilled or seasonal workers. How can the different legal venues be implemented effectively? On international protection, how can the EU and Member states reconcile a right-based approach with a border-management approach to developing legal pathways? How does external cooperation with third countries on legal pathways interact with the internal stalemate of the Common European Asylum System and Schengen?

Based on these 4 topics, ReSOMA will organise regular exchanges through its Twitter account in the form of Twitter chats. Stay tuned!

The ReSOMA methodology - Selecting topics for an impactful dialogue

The ReSOMA methodology is threefold and consists of selecting topics, fostering evidence-based dialogue and collaboration, and feeding the policy and societal debate. Being a collaborative platform, ReSOMA mainstreams dialogue between researchers and stakeholders across all phases.

As for topic selection, in a first workshop ReSOMA convened several European stakeholder platforms representing civil society and local stakeholders across Europe to brainstorm on possible topics. Eight policy-relevant topics were identified:

  • Cooperation with third countries/Externalisation of EU migration and asylum policies
  • Integration outcomes of private sponsorship in safe and legal migration pathways
  • Mainstreaming migrants' needs into the policy responses to COVID19
  • Implementing the new EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion
  • Anti-racism
  • Transition from childhood to adulthood for migrant children
  • Criminalisation of humanitarian assistance
  • Enhancing safe and legal pathways to Europe

Based on the draft list of topics, ReSOMA turned to IMISCOE and its migration and integration experts to inquire what the most pressing issues were among researchers. Input was collected through a survey that remained open throughout May 2021 and explored two dimensions: the availability/lack of evidence and the salience of every topic.

The survey highlighted interesting results

1. According to IMISCOE researchers the most salient topics are:

. Enhancing safe and legal pathways to Europe
. Criminalisation of humanitarian assistance 
. Mainstreaming migrant’s needs into the policy responses to COVID, 19 
. Anti-racism

2. Researcher have highlighted other policy relevant topics to underpin dialogue in the upcoming months

·  Climate-induced migration policies 
·  Family reunification and family separation 
·  Migration (im)mobilities, securitization, solidarity, and changing status 
·  The use of emerging technology and data to manage migration 
·  Mental health and well-being impacts on refugee/migrant youth, particularly concerning educational settings 

3. According to researchers major existing evidence gaps exists on…

· Integration outcomes of private sponsorship in safe and legal migration pathways 
· Mainstreaming migrants' needs into the policy responses to COVID-19 
· Implementing the new EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 
· Transition from childhood to adulthood for migrant children  

4. …while the most salient topics, in order or priority, are:

· Mainstreaming migrants' needs into the policy responses to COVID19 
· Enhancing safe and legal pathways to Europe 
· Criminalisation of humanitarian assistance 
· Implementing the new EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 
· Anti-racism 
· Transition from childhood to adulthood for migrant children

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