Ukraine and EU migration policy (vom 01.08.2007),
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[01. Aug 2007]

Ukraine and EU migration policy

Ever since 1989 the European Union aims to expand its migration control capacity towards non-member states. Long before the Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) became members of the EU they were integrated into the EU's migration control regime.

This was managed through various processes, such as the Berlin process, the Budapest process and the Visegrad process. The driving force, however, was the EU accession process, the obligation of future member states to comply with EU regulations and to adopt according standards before they could become full members. Thus, Europe was divided into three groups of countries, member states, candidate countries and non-candidate countries.

The :: Schengen aqui represents a second set of requirements, even though the Schengen aqui is meanwhile integrated into the EU aqui communitaire full membership to Schengen is separate from EU membership. As a result there are two European Unions, the Schengen EU countries and the non-Schengen EU countries, but most of these will soon become Schengen members. Finally, there are non-Schengen non EU countries.

Another agreement, the :: Dublin convention - identifying so-called safe third countries and clarifying responsibility for :: asylum procedures - allowed western countries to send back asylum seekers to their first safe country of arrival. Meanwhile, there are many so-called safe countries. Finally, another important instrument in distinguishing countries is :: visa requirements. Countries that are considered of no concern are visa-free countries whereas countries considered as of concern are visa-countries.

Their citizens are requested to undergo pre-entry screening and sometimes to pay considerably visa fees which can act as entry fees. All EU countries include Ukraine on their visa list, Ukrainian citizens must have a visa and as a consequence. After 2004, journeys of Ukrainians to Poland and other EU neighbours decreased by over 50 per cent.

The period between 1990 and 2004, respectively 2007, covered the candidature period of 12 EU neighbour states. During this period, these countries served as a sanitary cordon, a belt of countries that was designed to prevent unwanted migrants, often asylum seekers or undocumented migrants to reach EU territory. Meanwhile, and because of EU accessions in 2004 and 2007 those countries that previously served as a sanitary cordon are themselves members of the EU. As a consequence, the EU lost its safety belt around its territory. This leads to yet again another :: expansion of the EU's migration control regime. Meanwhile, a whole range of new policy processes are invented which aim at deterring and detecting unwanted migrants before these reach EU territory. This paper is looking at these processes and specifically those that are targeting Ukraine, but also some other eastern neighbours such as Belarus and :: Moldova.

The expansion of EU migration control toward Ukraine

As early as 1998, a Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) was signed between EU and Ukraine. This included some subcommittees on customs, trans-border co-operation 'combating illegal migration'. In 2001, the EU in its Action Plan on Justice and Home Affairs made clear that Ukraine is held responsible for migration to the European Union. This was confirmed by the integration of Ukraine in its neighbourhood policy (ENP) in 2004 aiming at setting up a 'ring of friends' along the new EU borders. In the same year, and in the wake of the British prime ministers proposal for Transit Processing Centres (TPC) and Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) Ukraine, amongst other countries was mentioned as a possibly country for implementing these plans. These included :: EU detention centres, asylum application procedures outside the European Union.

More concretely, Austria suggested that because it receives many Chechen refugees these could also be held in Ukraine instead (:: see report in german). All this is discussed as the externalisation, internationalisation or globalisation of migration control. This is particular far developed in Ukraine. In the following, all EU institutions, policy processes, and international organisations active in Ukraine and who pay a role in migration control shall be briefly described.

Council of the European Union, Kiev office, about 60 staff. There is an officer for 'Terrorism, Organised Crime, Border Management, Asylum and Migration' responsible for analysing risks and for joining up with Ukrainian authorities.

EU member states, embassies. 23 member states have an embassy in Kiev, these not only implement visa policies in Ukraine but also represent the member states interests with respect to Ukraine. All embassies have officers which are responsible for migration control issues and for collaboration with Ukrainian authorities. Most embassies host police officers, border guard officers immigration control officers, so-called EU Justice, Freedom and Security Contact Points. Some of this is kept rather secret.

Schengen meeting. Once a month all these officers meet together and with their Ukrainian counterparts to discuss migration control matters

International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM has already been analysed as an Organisation against Migration (see :: and :: They have a large office in Kiev, they have 140 staff and numerous NGOs that act as their partners. IOM acts as partner for Ukraine's enforcement agencies. They will be involved in managing a new EU-funded detention centre in Volyn, North-West Ukraine which will serve to enforce the new readmission agreement with the EU (see below). They run so-called migration information campaigns against trafficking basically deterring women fro migration. They also occasionally act as investigation authorities of irregular migration support structures.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Kiev, regional headquarter). UNHCR is responsible for asylum seekers and refugees and support them socially and legally. They are also involved in some new temporary accommodation centres for asylum seekers, e.g. in Odessa, these are not very popular amongst asylum seekers who often refuse to stay and prefer to return to the cities. UNHCR, intentionally or not, plays in role in 'migration management', which is no more than a nicer term for migration control and restriction. Notably the idea of improving refugee protection of Ukraine and thereby putting into practice the concept of Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs, see below) requires UNHCR's collaboration. They are basically instrumentalised in a wider policy that aims at combating unwanted migration to the EU. (For critcs on UNHCR see ::

Soderkoping Process. Initiated in 2003 by Swedish migration authority, IOM, UNHCR and EU, coordinating cooperation of EU and non-EU migration control agencies in the region (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania). It has been made clear by EU officials that the idea of RPPs will be build upon already ongoing processes and that Soderkoping process is such a process.

European Union Border Assistance Mission. EUBAM, headquarter Odessa, was set up in 2005 on the basis of PCA (see above) to address security and smuggling issues related to the autonomous zone of Transdnistria, situated between northern :: Moldova and Ukraine. EUBAM needs to be seen in conjunction with another EU- and UNDP-funded project 'Enhancing Border Control Management Programme'. In Ukraine, EUBAM has three field offices, in Timkove, Platonove and Kurchahan, and another three in Moldova. Meanwhile, they also cover migration issues on Ukraine's black sea coast, in southern and eastern Ukraine and in Moldova. Until, 2007, they had an officer based at Ukraine's border guard headquarter in Kiev.

Border Management at the Moldova-Ukraine Border, BOMMOLUK, improvement of Border Controls at the Moldova-Ukraine border, a 9 million Euro project.

General Directors' Immigration Service Conference (GDISC). Regular meeting of senior officials of EU and non-EU directors of migration control authorities.

Budapest Process, Vienna. The intergovernmental :: International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), infamous for its Mediterranean Transit Migration Programme, hosts the Budapest process secretariat. To some extend, ICMPD is an intelligence agency that cooperates with Europol and Frontex in order to detect paths, techniques and strategies of undocumented migrants.

Raymarine, US maritime and military equipment, they have an office in Kiev and funded by the US they introduce x-ray controls at Odessa port. Initially this was meant to targeting arms trade and drugs smuggling but it has been said that this technology also aims at irregular migration.

EU Ukraine Readmission Agreement. Signed in 2006, fully coming into force in 2009, regulating return of undocumented Ukrainian citizens from EU territory and in particular of third country nationals who have transited Ukraine on their way west. (see :: ERCAN, 03-11-2006: EU and Ukraine agree on visa facilitation and readmission)

Readmission agreements. For many years, RA's are in force between Ukraine and its neighbours in the east and south. Meanwhile, an RA is signed with Russia facilitating chain deportation from EU through Ukraine to Russia and possibly further to countries of origin. This could lead to deportation of refugees back into the hands of authoritarian regimes in China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

NGOs. NGOs are integrated in most of this by IOM, UNHCR and the Soderkoping Process. They may or may not know that they are part of a much wider project, that is making Ukraine an actor in EU migration control. Often, NGOs are dependent on only one funder, e.g. IOM or UNHCR, thus NGOs face a dilemma, they either take the money or they die. It should be noted that refugee self-organisations do not receive money.

Meanwhile, German border guards (Bundespolizei) provides training to their Ukrainian colleagues, the Danish Refugee Council seconds staff to support UNHCR and the asylum authority (State Committee for Nationalities and Religion), the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, Austria, helped Ukraine in reforming its migration and refugee administration.

Frontex. So far, :: Frontex does not seem to be active in Ukraine and there is not much collaboration between Frontex and Ukrainian authorities, but in future, this can change. (see article in german :: Frontex als Schrittmacher der EU-Innenpolitik)

Funding. All of this is funded by the EU programmes Tacis, Argo and Europeaid Co-operation Office.


So far, treatment of asylum seekers in Ukraine is disgraceful, international organisations and NGOs are working hard to improve overall situation. Meanwhile, the EU made clear that they combine improvement of refugee protection with strengthening migration control, in other words, and given this equation works, migrants of any other kind are sacrificed for the sake of refugees, refugee policy is used as cover up putting a humanitarian face to the whole anti-migrants operation. This shows that refugee protection must be complemented by migration rights, because if the two policies are kept separate refugee protection can be instrumentalised for restricting migration as such.