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Policy Conference: What’s next for EU migration and development policy?

Time (GMT +02) 09:30 17:00
Hero image description: EU flags against the European Commission Berlaymont building Image credit:EU flags against the European Commission Berlaymont building. Image license:Guillaume Périgois/Unsplash

09:30 - 17:00 (CET) I In-person only
International Press Centre, Residence Palace I Brussels


2024 will be a defining year for EU migration policy.

In April, the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum - set to overhaul EU policies on migration, asylum, integration and border management - will pass through Parliament.

In June, EU citizens will elect new representatives as Members of the European Parliament, shaping the European Parliament’s five-year mandate, including on migration. And throughout the year, migration will remain a pivotal topic in national and regional elections across Europe.

Whether migration has positive or negative effects is highly dependent on the choices facing policymakers across and beyond the EU today.

At this critical juncture, there is a need for credible evidence, established expertise and open dialogue on the direction and shape of future policymaking.

This full-day conference seeks to meet those demands, offering new insights for informed, just, evidence-based policies on longstanding and emerging priorities. It is co-led by ODI and MIGNEX, a global research initiative with the core ambition of creating new evidence and insights on migration and development policy.

Panel discussions

These panel discussions will launch new research that shed light on some of the major uncertainties underpinning EU migration and development policy; they will bring together experts to offer reflections for future policy ambitions and design.

New insights on the causes of migration

As people navigate challenges and opportunities in their lives, some see migration to another country as their best next step – what prompts this conclusion, and what implications might this have for future EU policies and partnerships?


  • Chair: Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Senior Research Fellow on Migration, ODI.
  • Camilla Hagström, Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, European Commission.
  • Najma Ahmed Hussein, Partnerships Specialist (Africa), United Nations Development Programme.
  • Richard Danziger, Former Regional Director, International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
  • Leyla Kayacik, Former Special Representative for Migration and Refugees, Council of Europe.

New insights on how migration shapes development

What are the multifaceted impacts of migration, the circumstances under which migration leads to positive and negative development outcomes, and what critical insights does this offer for future initiatives?


  • Chair: Melissa Siegel, Head of Migration Studies and Head of the Migration and Development Research, United Nations University-MERIT.
  • Cécile Riallant, Lead, Human Mobility and Sustainable Development, International Organisation for Migration.
  • Jason Gagnon, Head of Migration, OECD Development Centre.
  • Linda Adhiambo Oucho, Executive Director, African Migration and Development Policy Centre.
  • Raffaella Tonegutti, Lead Expert on Migration and Development, Belgian Development Agency.
  • Stephanie Deubler, Senior Planning Officer Migration and Forced Displacement, German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Towards policy coherence

How do migration management and development processes relate to each other? Speakers will reflect on the EU’s evolving approach to ‘policy coherence’, whether a heavy focus on containment of migration impedes development processes and the potential implications for future policy ambitions and design.


  • Chair: Carlos Vargas-Silva, Director, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society and Professor of Migration Studies, University of Oxford.
  • Anna Knoll, Head, Migration and Mobility, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).
  • Evelien van Roemburg, Head, Oxfam EU Office, Oxfam International.
  • Luca Lixi, Migration Policy Officer, European External Action Service.
  • Marina Manke, Chief, Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Global Data Institute, International Organization for Migration.

Policy roundtables

Participatory roundtable discussions will hear from distinguished speakers leading change on pressing policy agendas, through local, national and international governance and research.

Should the EU give up on readmission agreements?

This roundtable aims to assess the EU – third country migration partnerships, using readmission agreements as an entry point. The discussion will focus not only on issues around policy effectiveness and coherence, but also on the power dynamics of the migration partnerships; compatibility with domestic policy goals from the partner country perspective; impact on the migrant and host populations in the EU; and other societal and legal implications.

Led by Peace Research Institute Oslo, with interventions by:

  • Ralph Genetzke, Director, Head of Mission at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Brussels.
  • Andrew Connelly, Freelance journalist, broadcaster and consultant focusing on migration, politics and conflict.

How can governments support diaspora contributions to sustainable development?

This roundtable will shed light on the wide-ranging, positive contributions of the diaspora; drawing on extensive data MIGNEX collection across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and the best practices and policy frameworks of national and international initiatives. It aims to consider policy options to foster the contributions of the diaspora on development, including the role of the EU and EU Member State migration policies.

Led by ODI, with interventions by:

  • Director Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, President’s Office, Ghana
  • Oleg Chirita, Head of Global Partnerships, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Brussels.
  • Alexandra Hilbig, Head of Sector Program Migration and Development, GIZ

(Mis)managing transit migration policies? Lessons from the EU neighborhood

This roundtable seeks to unpack the current relevance oftransit migration, in relation to the processes of externalization of EU migration policies and their impacts on the wider EU neighbourhood. A particular emphasis will be put on how technical cooperation and capacity building affect transit countries, their citizens, as well as refugees and other migrants in those states. It aims to offer implications for future EU transit migration management approaches, in particular, in light of the recently adopted EU Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Led by the Migration Research Centre at Koç University (MiReKoc), Türkiye, with interventions by:

  • Federica Toscano, Senior Advocacy Advisor, Save the Children.
  • Annalisa Buscaini, Advocacy Officer, Open Society Foundation.
  • Christina Oskjær, EU Partnership Advisor, Danish Red Cross.

2024 European Parliamentary Elections: How do Europeans really feel about migration?

This roundtable seeks to share knowledge about the recent trends across countries in relation to public attitudes and how Europeans really feel about migration. It will explore the contrast between public attitudes and political narratives around migration and share ideas about new approaches, initiatives or research related to countering polarising narratives around migration.

Led by ODI Europe with interventions by:

  • Başak Yavçan, Head of Research, Migration Policy Group.
  • Ambassador David Donoghue, Former Permanent Representative for Ireland to the United Nations.
  • Shada Islam, Specialist and Commentator on European Union Affairs.

Plenary panel discussion 

EU Skills shortages: what role will migration play?

Despite the often-hostile narratives on migration in dominant media and political spheres, the importance of migration for Europe’s workforce means it is subject to much policy attention in the EU and its nation states. And beyond market needs alone, formal access to labour markets, decent work and rights are vital for the sustainable integration of those who wish to set up life in Europe.

In view of Europe’s green transition, climate crisis and ageing workforce, the demand for migrant workers is likely to only increase. This panel will consider: how can the migration policies of EU and EU Member States address the shortage of relevant skills – and what constitutes a fair and attractive package for foreign workers?

This panel will convene influential actors advancing thinking and policy on the role of migration in addressing labour force, and wider societal challenges, faced by the EU today.

  • Chair: Dora Meredith, Director, ODI Europe.
  • Ambassador Hugo Verbist, Belgian Special Envoy for Migration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Belgium.
  • Claire Kumar, Senior Research Fellow, ODI Europe.
  • Director Akwasi Ababio, Director, Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President of Ghana.
  • David Manicom, Director, Global Advocacy for Displaced Talent, Talent Beyond Boundaries.
  • Mercedes Garcia Perez, Diplomat and Head of Division, Migration and Human Security, European External Action Service, EU.


If you are interested in attending this conference, please register your interest here.

If you have any queries, or you require any reasonable adjustments in order to participate, please contact [email protected].

Pre-conference panel discussion: The EU-Africa migration agenda – realising a new partnership

Ahead of the conference, this panel discussion will explore what could be done to deliver a migration partnership more strongly oriented towards mutual developmental benefits.

Find out more and register here.


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    Keynote: Shada Islam

    Specialist and Commentator on European Union Affairs and Director, New Horizons Project

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    Keynote: Ambassador Luigi Soreca

    Special Envoy for External Dimensions of Migration, European External Action Service (EEAS)

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    Keynote: Ola Henrikson

    Regional Director, Regional Office for the EEA, EU and NATO, International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

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    Akwasi Ababio

    Director, Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, Ghana

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    Mercedes Garcia Perez

    Diplomat and Head of Division, Migration and Human Security, European External Action Service, EU

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    Ambassador Hugo Verbist

    Belgian Special Envoy for Migration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Belgium



MIGNEX – Aligning Migration Management and the Migration–Development Nexus – is a six-year research project (2018–2024) with the core ambition of creating new knowledge on migration, development and policy. It involves researchers at nine institutions in Europe, Africa and Asia.

ODI Europe is ODI’s European office, which steers European policy design and ensures an informed debate about Europe’s role in the global arena.