The Operational Framework

The main deliverable of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Reintegration and Development (R&D), the Operational Framework is designed to offer practitioners actionable and directly applicable guidance, as it presents practical ways on how the reintegration and development sectors could work together.
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What is the Operational Framework?

The Operational Framework (OF) is the main deliverable of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Reintegration and Development (R&D).

Designed to offer practitioners actionable and directly applicable guidance, it presents practical ways on how the reintegration and development sectors could work together. Specifically, it describes how to connect returning migrants with relevant services available in their country of origin (CoO), whilst assisting EU Member States (MS) in aligning their planning and activities, from pre-departure to post-arrival.

Key dilemmas addressed in the OF

Three main dilemmas were raised from the TWG R&D meetings and interviews with members and stakeholders:

The following challenges are addressed:

  • How can R&D actors work better together vis-à-vis referral mechanisms?

  • What is the framework where development and migration/return agencies could work together in a complementary manner, for stronger referral mechanisms and thus better reintegration outcomes?

Operational Standards: Setting The Stages

The OF offers recommendations on implementing activities covering the full spectrum of the return and reintegration process, focusing on four stages of operational planning:
TWG R&D Members can use the OF as a framework for planning each of these phases of linking reintegration and development. These stages ensure a holistic design and implementation process, as well as adequate and independent monitoring of the mechanism.


What is the Technical Working Group?

The Technical Working Group (TWG) on Reintegration and Development (R&D) was established to create and operate in a technical working space, where migration experts and practitioners on the one hand, and development actors on the other, can explore possibilities for closer, more coherent and pragmatic cooperation benefitting both reintegration and development efforts simultaneously, encompassed in a practical and non-political atmosphere.
2018 Established
The TWG R&D was established in 2018 to facilitate closer cooperation between migration and development fields.
20+ EU member states
The TWG R&D has the participation of 20 EU Member States, including return and reintegration departments and agencies.
100+ practitioners and experts
The TWG R&D convenes more than 100 migration and development experts and practitioners.
50+ development programs linked
The TWG R&D links reintegration services to over 50 development programs and services offered by various initiatives.

Objectives of the TWG R&D

The TWG R&D has evolved given more shape to its purpose and objectives. EU Member States (MS) and development stakeholders have become more and more interested in navigating into possibilities that could incorporate reintegration to longer-term development planning.

It also represents an opportunity for its members to share their ideas on the subject matter, identify complementarities and align their objectives, striving towards a coherent programming approach to reintegration.

The TWG R&D aims primarily at:

Strengthening Synergies
The TWG R&D strengthens synergies between reintegration and development initiatives. Experts and practitioners cooperate to benefit both efforts.
Access to Programs
The TWG R&D enables returnees from EU to access programs in their countries of origin. Linking reintegration services with development programs creates opportunities for sustainable reintegration.
Operational Framework
This practical document guides practitioners to contribute to the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants, and helps to ensure that reintegration is integrated into longer-term development planning.

Evolution of the TWG objectives

Phase I
  • Established in November 2018
  • Screening EU-funded and national programmes in the sector of R&D aid
Phase II
  • Launch and implementation of the three pilot initiatives in Bangladesh (2) and Nigeria (1), which focused on mapping, linking and referring returnees to existing R&D initiatives in both countries
Phase III
  • Preparation of an assessment report with the results and lessons learnt from the pilot projects
  • Development and validation of the Operational Framework (OF)
  • Preserve the structural and ongoing strategic dialogue.
  • Embed referral mechanisms in RRF projects and initiatives.
  • Explore programming mapping to improve linkages and joint activities.

Strengthening Sustainable Reintegration

The Importance of Linking Reintegration & Development

Linking reintegration services with existing development programs is a key focus of the Technical Working Group on Reintegration and Development (TWG R&D), because it creates opportunities to support returning migrants and facilitate their sustainable reintegration. In this section, we explore why this linkage is crucial and how it's achieved.
More opportunities
Linking reintegration services with existing development programmes creates more opportunities to support returning migrants, whilst facilitating their sustainable reintegration.
More coherent cooperation
The creation of a technical working space, where migration and development practitioners and experts can convene to explore options for closer and coherent cooperation in a non-political setting is a key component for the TWG R&D.
A framework for action
The Operational Framework is a practical document to guide and assist the work of practitioners from both fields to contribute to the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants.


Current State of Play

The TWG R&D will continue its activities under the Return and Reintegration Facility (RRF) umbrella, enabling the continuation of an informal and technical space to discuss, exchange and steer the implementation of the Operational Framework.

The TWG R&D meets on a regular basis, in person or virtually, to discuss a variety of topics related to the implementation of the OF. Ad hoc meetings can equally be organised upon request.

TWG R&D criteria for membership

Status Who can join? Conditions Attendance
Core members

• Return and reintegration departments/agencies (migration authorities)

• National/international development agencies/ institutions

National institution from an RRF MS with a clear mandate in the field of return/reintegration or development

All meetings

Observers and/or contributors

• Research institution

• (Local) reintegration partner in countries of return

• Civil society organisations (non-governmental organisations, international non-governmental organisations) with specific work areas within return and reintegration

• Partner of a Core Member involved in a specific relevant action (e.g. research activity relevant to TWG R&D)

• Institution (nominated by a Member) with a relevant link to the work of the TWG R&D

• Institution (nominated by a Member) involved in the implementation of some specific activities, e.g. mapping

Specific thematic meetings (or sessions) and/or ad hoc meetings

TWG Members will act as a “Sounding Board” in the implementation of the OF by:

Playing an advisory role in providing guidance and validation of certain work processes and items
Continuing to steer the collaborative dialogue
Supporting the establishment of relevant partnerships


Member States
Belgium (chair)
Development actors
European Commission
Implementing Partners
The European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN) was a network of 16 European partner countries, established to facilitate cooperation between migration authorities. As of 1 July 2022, ERRIN came to an end. Its activities relating to joint reintegration were transferred to Frontex; see Reintegration ( Other activities were transferred to the Return and Reintegration Facility (RRF) implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)[BC1] , including the Technical Working Group Reintegration and Development.