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Migration and Home Affairs

Collaboration with international organisations

Governing migratory flows and fighting organised crime and terrorism require intense international cooperation. This includes cooperation with specialised international organisations. The EU works particularly closely with the: United Nations (UN), including the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and other international organisations and global processes (such as the G7/G8, the UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and the Global Forum on Migration and Development).


On refugee and asylum issues, the EU works closely with UNHCR, consulting it on asylum policy, with the principal goal of cooperation being enhancement of asylum capacity-building and refugee protection in non-EU countries.

The EU’s financial support to UNHCR and political engagement has increased in the past years to address refugee flows within the EU (support to Member States such as Greece and Italy), in the EU’s neighbourhood (e.g. Turkey, Libya, Syria crisis), the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. The EU and UNHCR hold an annual Strategic Dialogue.

UNHCR led the two-year process of discussions and consultations among UN members leading to the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) on 17 December 2018 at the UN General Assembly. The Refugee Compact is a legally non-binding framework for cooperation at global/UN level on refugee protection. The EU played an active role in the process leading to the development of the GCR.


IOM is a key partner for the EU when it comes to the implementation of migration-related policies.

To enhance cooperation on migration, development, humanitarian response and human rights issues, three Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) established a framework for strategic partnership with IOM in July 2012. The framework builds on a shared interest in bringing the benefits of well managed international migration to migrants and society. It also serves as a basis for exchange, development and structuring of the relationship between the EU and IOM.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) provides for the first, non-legally binding cooperative framework on migration at UN level. It is the result of a comprehensive process of discussions and negotiations among UN Member States, launched by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016. To ensure UN system-wide support, follow-up and review, a UN Migration Network was established among 38 UN bodies, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) serving as its coordinator and secretariat.

EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration

Launched in December 2016, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is the first comprehensive programme to bring African partner countries, the IOM and the EU together around the shared aim of better protecting migrants along migration routes, providing them with socio-medical care, and offering safer and better governed migration processes.

Operating today with a total budget of EUR 440 million, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative covers and closely cooperates with 26 African countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa.

The main areas of activity include:

  • increasing protection and access to services for vulnerable and stranded migrants, including voluntary return assistance,
  • supporting sustainable reintegration,
  • developing capacities for better migration governance,
  • giving migrants and their communities access to accurate information,
  • improving data on migration flows, routes and trends as well as migrants’ needs and vulnerabilities, and
  • promoting peace and stability for internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities.

African-Union-EU-UN Taskforce to address the Migrant Situation in Libya

In November 2017 in Abidjan, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations agreed to put in place a joint Taskforce to save and protect the lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya. The Joint Taskforce committed to accelerate ongoing efforts to assist migrants and refugees in Libya and advance the programme of the International Organisation for Migration for assisted voluntary returns from Libya to countries of origin and the emergency transit mechanism of the UNHCR, to evacuate people in need of international protection.

Other United Nations agencies

For drugs and crime, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the EU's principal partner. The solid and long-standing cooperation with UNODC, both in policy development and in assisting countries to address key challenges, is aimed at combating drug trafficking, organised crime, corruption, firearms and money laundering. It was formalized through letters of exchange in January 2005, between the UNODC Executive Director and the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security.

An annual Senior Officials Meeting, led by the European External Action Service and hosted in Brussels or Vienna, focusses on strategic policy exchange in areas of common interest. An annual Operational Exchange Meeting, following the Senior Officials meeting, led by the European Commission (DG DEVCO) provides the opportunity to discuss overarching operational topics. Numerous working level meetings in Vienna, Brussels, or in the field take place to discuss specific thematic, geographic or programmatic issues.

The EU participates in the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (UN CCPCJ) and in the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN CND). The EU is a full party, as a regional economic integration organisation (REIO), to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) .

In the field of counter-terrorism, within the framework established by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), the EU supports the efforts of non-EU countries applying UN instruments on counter-terrorism. The EU works closely together with the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and other relevant UN entities, including the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UNCTED).

UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development & the Global Forum on Migration and Development

The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility allows the EU to speak with one voice on migration and mobility matters at global level, in particular at meetings such as the second UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development – organised by the UN General Assembly on 3-4 October 2013 – and the Global Forum on Migration and Development.

The European Commission is actively engaged in discussions on global migration management and promotes a partnership-based methodology. It has also supported, endorsed and contributed to the international discourse on the migration-development nexus, which aims at maximising the positive impacts of migration and mobility on development and poverty reduction. The Commission Communication on Maximising the Development Impact of Migration adopted in May 2013 provided the basis for a common position of the EU and its Member States at the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) have a long tradition of co-operation which draws on their shared values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The rule of law is a prerequisite for the fulfilment and consolidation of the other fundamental values of human rights and democracy. Therefore, the EU has redoubled its commitment to upholding the rule of law. In this context, the EU has strengthened its cooperation with the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and in July 2019 became an observer to the group. The EU’s participation in GRECO as an observer facilitates our joint work on capacity-building and the implementation of standards and norms intended to strengthen the rule of law and the fight against corruption, such as the protection of whistle-blowers.

The EU and the Council of Europe have, in pursuit of shared goals developed a dynamic, vibrant and highly efficient co-operation tool known as the joint programmes. The EU provides most of the funding to the joint programmes while the Council of Europe is responsible for their implementation.


The OECD is a key partner in the area of migration, in particular on monitoring migration flows (IMO reports) and on providing policy analysis on labour migration and integration.

In recent years, the OECD and the European Commission have been working together on migration and jointly published key reports on integration (OECD.EU Settling In - 2018) and on labour migration (EU Talent pool report).

On 16 January 2020, a High level Policy Forum on Migration and Integration was organised followed by a Ministerial meeting the day after.