The enlargement of the European Union's (EU) eastwards had called for partnership and enhanced cross-border co-operation between the Western Newly Independent States (NIS) and the EU. In early 2001, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Swedish Migration Board (SMB) jointly launched a pro-active initiative to promote dialogue on asylum and irregular migration issues among the countries situated along the future EU eastern border. The initiative was named 'The Söderköping process' after the town of Söderköping in Sweden where the first meeting took place. The strategic objective of the Söderköping process is to facilitate cross-border co-operation between new EU Member States, candidate countries and the Western NIS on asylum, migration and border management issues.
Since 2001, the Söderköping process has grown to include now ten countries situated along the enlarged EU border: Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The process is supported by the EC, IOM, the SMB and UNHCR. Website: www.soderkoping.org.ua/