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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Consultation: Towards a Communication on Forced Displacement and Development

In 2014, the European Commission launched a consultation process to gather input on the issue of 'forced displacement and development' in view of adopting a Communication.

The issue

Forced displacement – when people are forced away from their home, becoming refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) – is not only a humanitarian issue but also a development, economic and political challenge.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has recognised forced displacement as one of the key factors that threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades. Refugees and IDPs are included in the category of vulnerable people that the Agenda will target. A greater involvement of development stakeholders from the outset of a crisis, and throughout, is also being discussed widely by both humanitarian actors, in the lead-up to the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, and development actors, with the UN and the World Bank as major advocates.

About the Communication

On 26 April 2016, the European Commission adopted a Communication on Forced Displacement and Development "Lives in Dignity: from Aid-dependence to Self-reliance" (COM(2016)234) and an accompanying Staff working document (SWD(2016)142). The Communication aims at setting out a new development-oriented approach to support refugees, IDPs, voluntary returnees and host populations in partner countries.

The initiative was led jointly by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), International Cooperation and Development department (DEVCO) and Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations department (NEAR) in close coordination with other Commission services and the European External Action Service (EEAS).

On 12 December 2014, the Council adopted Conclusions on Migration in EU Development Cooperation, where EU Member States asked the Commission to elaborate "a coherent and coordinated development approach towards refugees and IDPs issues". This demand was reiterated within the European Agenda on Migration, and the Member States during the Council meeting on 26 May 2015. On 12 May 2016, the Council adopted Conclusions on the EU approach to forced displacement and development.


Two expert consultations were held on 21 and 22 January 2016 in Brussels. These consultations allowed for an open and targeted policy dialogue and sharing of experiences between the Commission and a broad set of stakeholders from Member States, academia, civil society, NGOs, private sector and international organisations on the role of development cooperation in addressing forced displacement.

To this end, the Commission prepared a non-paper for expert consultation with key issues and four main groups of discussion questions. The four main discussion areas are (a) durable solutions and inclusion, (b) stronger evidence base, (c) socio-economic approaches and (d) levels of intervention.

Past consultations and activities

The Commission has organised several consultation activities involving a wide range of stakeholders. In April 2014, it presented the Issues Paper "Development, Refugees and IDPs" to the Council and partner organisations. In addition, it has organised interactive consultation events during 2014 and 2015:

  • Roundtable on Integrating Migration into Development Strategies, in July 2014, with a dedicated session on 'Mainstreaming refugees and IDPs into Development Cooperation';
  • Roundtable on Development Solutions to Displacement, in October 2014, in the framework of the project Dialogue on Migration and Asylum in Development (DOMAID), implemented by a consortium including European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Discussion paper;
  • Expert meetings with Member States and selected host countries and countries of origin in December 2014; and
  • Peer-to-peer meeting on asylum and international protection with Member States and neighbourhood host countries, in February 2015, in the framework of the project Euromed Migration III, with a dedicated session on 'Viable and feasible long-term solutions for forced displacement'.