In his opening speech at the Global Forum on Migration and Development held in Brussels in July 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated the following:

“It is commonly said we live in a globalised world. Less well understood is that globalization is taking place in stages. We are in its second stage: the Age of Mobility.”

1. Legal immigration

Immigration issues fall within the competence of FPS Immigration and Asylum Policy and FPS Home Affairs.

Legal immigration concerns several areas such as employment, education, family reunifications, etc.

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The Minister for Immigration and Asylum Policies advocates developing a legal (or economic) immigration system, particularly in order to mitigate the effects of the decrease in the working population, which is forecast to shrink by 23% in Belgium by the year 2050.

2. Illegal immigration

In order to repatriate persons residing illegally on Belgian territory and who often have no identity documents and/or travel documents, Belgium has concluded a number of return agreements (and is striving to conclude further such agreements) with the countries of origin, within the framework of both the Benelux partnership and the European Union.

FPS Foreign Affairs takes part in the negotiations on these agreements and supervises the procedure for their ratification by Parliament.

Return agreements

Persons present illegally on Belgian territory can choose between voluntary or forced repatriation (with or without police supervision). Of course, for this to be possible the countries of return must be prepared to readmit such persons once they have been identified as nationals of the relevant country, this while bearing in mind that in the vast majority of cases they have no travel or identity documents.

In order to facilitate the person’s return and the attendant formalities (identification and issuing of travel documents), efficient cooperation between the Belgian authorities and the diplomatic representation of the country concerned is essential. To this end, a number of agreements have been concluded between the three Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and several other countries. The implementation protocols of these agreements harmonise the procedures leading to repatriation. More recently, the European Union has been given a mandate to conclude European-level return agreements, which would then replace the Benelux agreements.

3. European immigration policy

This policy is set out in the "European Pact on Immigration and Asylum".

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The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

On 15 and 16 October 2008, on the proposal of France, the European Council adopted the “European Pact on Immigration and Asylum”.

The text agreed by the EU Heads of State and Government expresses, at the highest political level, the commitment made by the European Union and its Member States – to their citizens a well as to third States – to develop a genuine common policy on immigration.

The Pact enshrines five clear commitments by Member States:

  1. organise legal immigration to take account of the priorities, needs and reception capacities determined by each Member State, and to encourage integration;
  2. control illegal immigration by ensuring that illegal immigrants return to their countries of origin or to a country of transit;
  3. make border controls more effective;
  4. construct a Europe of asylum; and
  5. create a global partnership with the countries of origin and of transit in order to encourage synergy between migration and development.



Belgium attaches great importance to the fight against human trafficking and actively participates in efforts undertaken at the regional, international and global levels to gradually put an end to heinous practices which trample on human rights and human dignity.

The national Action Plan

On 11 July 2008 the Belgian Government adopted an Action Plan for 2008-2011 setting out the aims and priorities of the struggle against human trafficking.

The Office of the Interdepartmental Unit

Meeting on a monthly basis, the Office coordinates the activities of the various departments and agencies working in this area, namely FPS Justice, FPS Foreign Affairs, the Office for Foreigners, and the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism.

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Reception of victims

The following three specialised reception centres have been established for the victims of human trafficking. The centres provide shelter, guidance and counselling, healthcare services and legal aid.