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17th Oct 2021

Netherlands against more rights for rejected asylum-seekers

  • Netherlands worry a legal framework on voluntary returns for rejected asylum-seekers could give them greater rights (Photo: Michael Gubi)
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The Netherlands is opposing any new EU legal framework on voluntary returns for rejected asylum seekers, because it fears it could give them more rights.

"It would possibly provide more rights to those who have exhausted legal proceedings and have no right to stay in our countries," the government said, in a leaked internal EU document dated 9 September and seen by EUobserver.

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The Dutch say any proposed legal framework could also make it more difficult to force people to return. "Additionally, it detracts from the main rule that countries must take back their citizens," it said.

The document is an annex from the general secretariat of the council, representing member states.

It asked 16 member states plus Lichtenstein to spell out their positions on the role of the EU's border agency Frontex in returning and reintegrating people. All appeared supportive, with some hoping to offload much of the returns and reintegration programmes to the Warsaw-based agency.

"Frontex will become the European Union's returns agency," said European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas, in late April.

It also follows plans presented by Schinas in April to speed up and increase the number of voluntary returns. Known as the "EU strategy on voluntary Return and Reintegration" (Errin), the proposal aims to help create a common EU system for returns.

Part of the new system includes setting up a "returns coordinator" as part of the EU migration and asylum pact proposed last September.

Estimates suggests about one-third of those ordered to return actually leave EU territory, a figure member states are keen to increase with Frontex playing a leading role.

"The Errin takeover by Frontex constitutes big potential and should be the top priority," said Austria, in the document.

"The mandate of Frontex should be used to the full extent in this respect," said Finland, noting the agency should manage the reintegration contracts.

"We encourage Frontex to launch a call for service providers as soon as possible," said Germany, noting a 2022 summer deadline to get the agency fully-operational on returns.

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