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12th Apr 2024

EU to fast-track migrant deportations

  • Pakistani migrants in Kos, Greece (Photo: iom.int)

EU ministers are coming up with plans on how to best to use the deportation of failed asylum seekers as a deterrent for others.

A leaked paper from the Council, representing EU member states, says some €800 million will be set aside on larger efforts to remove people without the proper paper work from the EU back to their home countries.

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"The EU and its member states must do more in terms of return. Increased return rates should act as a deterrent to irregular migration," notes the document.

Leaked by London-based civil liberties group Statewatch, the draft conclusions are to be discussed at a home affairs ministerial in Luxembourg on Thursday (8 October).

Ministers want the European Commission to come up with new legislative proposals, if necessary, on how to speed up the process.

Thousands of people from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries are arriving on a daily basis in the EU. The past few weeks have seen EU leaders and ministers attempt to cobble together a coordinated response.

The EU already has a law on returns but it is not being applied. The Commission has threatened to take member states to court on the matter.

Up to 500,000 people in the EU are ordered to leave every year but only around 40 percent are sent back.

The return bottleneck is due to either the lack of readmission agreements with countries outside the EU or because the agreements are not being respected. The EU has 17 readmission agreements.

The draft gives the Commission six months to come up with tailor-made solutions for more effective readmission with each. It says a "balance of incentives and pressure" should be used to make sure the countries stick to the rules.

The document notes "all tools shall be mobilised to increase cooperation on return and readmission".

For states in Africa, the document notes that people can be returned even without a readmission agreement.

A 15-year-old treaty between the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states – known as the Cotonou Agreement – contains an article that "commits all participating states to readmit their own nationals without further formalities".

Ministers also want national authorities to issue special "EU laissez-passer" documents to all unwanted asylum seekers and refugees.

"The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws", said Statewatch director Tony Bunyan.

They want the return system promoted and broader cooperation with states where people are leaving from to enter the EU.

This includes connecting all EU-funded networks and programmes like EURINT (European integrated approach on return towards third countries), ERIN (European reintegration instrument network), EURLO (European return liaison officers), EMLOs (European migration liaison officers), ILOs (Immigration liaison officers) and the EU's border agency Frontex.

The European Commission, for its part, said in early September the networks need to "deploy mobile task forces" to help issue the travel documents.

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