This project will contribute to increasing the public health safety of all EU member states and help provide appropriate healthcare to migrants entering the European Union border area as a fundamental human right. The project will target the eastern external border of the enlarged EU where the implementation of the Schengen criteria is an ongoing process (Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). In support of the increased general security provided by Schengen II, the project aims to develop a public health and border management module (PHBMM) as well as a proposal for structural changes in the public health services of targeted border sectors.
The enlarged European Union faces increased and more complex migration flows. The registered 39 million migrants represent approximately 8% of the total population of the European Union (EU), while the number of irregular migrants in the EU is difficult to estimate. At present, the EU does not have a harmonized migration health policy, and the current protocols of border management along the EU external borders do not address the human public health aspects (nor do the Schengen criteria). Providing appropriate healthcare services for migrants is an important humanitarian obligation, but also, with growing importance, a public health concern for countries of transit and destination alike. The availability of healthcare for migrants and the ability of border staff to deal with the health concerns of migrants is one of the best security measures against public health risks associated with migration. Moreover, such measures are vital to the effective management of national, regional and EU-wide public health matters. National borders (making up external borders of the EU), as the first point of entry for migrants, are an important target for actions aiming to improve the public health impact of migration.
The project’s pilot phase will be implemented in the eastern border of the enlarged EU (Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) where the implementation of the Schengen criteria is currently ongoing, and will also include the participation of Romania. The project will be developed through four phases: 1) Extensive assessment of the current conditions of the current border management procedures/ structures regarding human public health aspects as well as securing the transnational regional network within the pilot area; 2) Training material development and testing at the regional level; 3) Public health minimum standard-setting checklist and development of proposal for structural changes; and 4) Dissemination of the experiences gained with the pilot PHBMM through country level consultations with relevant governmental bodies of EU Member States and an EU-level seminar.
An innovative, comprehensive model will be developed and used to analyse the migration-related public health hazards and the conditions and capacity of the border management structure to respond to and control these challenges. This model could be easily adapted for situation analysis in any Member State forming the EU’s external borders. A core Public Health and Border Management Module (PHBMM) will also be developed. Following the regional testing of the training materials, the module could be easily adapted and implemented in other EU Member States. The module will consist of two elements: training materials and minimum standards for public health in border management. Finally, the project will increase the awareness of Member States’ governments to the health impact of migration and will support the development of EU migration health policy through the EU-wide dissemination of its results.