Experts on foreign affairs from the European Union and the Russian Federation are meeting in Rome on 19-20 April to discuss challenges and opportunities for cooperation between the EU and Russia on the issue of migration. The two-day event is the sixth in a series of meetings scheduled for 2017-2018 as part of the EU-Russia Experts Network initiated and supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the Russian Federation.
Migration and forced displacement to Europe have been the dominant political issue within the EU over the past two years and are putting the Union's cohesion to the test.
Even though Frontex, the European border and coast guard agency, in its Risk Analysis 2018 reports that the total number of illegal border-crossings into the EU dropped to its lowest in four years, the annual total of 204,700 irregular migrants reaching the EU in 2017 marked a significant decrease, but not yet a return to the situation before 2014, when figures ranged between 72,000 and 141,000.
The entity of the death toll is measured by the IOM in its Missing migrants project, which confirms that the Mediterranean route is the most dangerous one, accounting for 40% to 60% of all migrants' deaths with the highest death toll in 2016 (5,135 out of 8,057 deaths). In the first months of 2018 already 462 people had died in the Mediterranean.
Russia is not affected by the current waves of migration to the same extent as the EU. Nonetheless, labour migration from different parts of the post-Soviet space is an issue in Russia as well.