On 23 September 2020, the Commission presented its new Pact on Migration and Asylum. Among the proposed measures, the Commission envisages strengthening cooperation with countries of origin on the return, readmission and reintegration of irregular migrants.
On 28 July 2020, the Court of Auditors published an audit entitled EU Migrant return policy — cooperation with third countries on readmission.
According to that audit, since 2008 some 500 000 foreign nationals have been ordered to leave the EU each year because they entered or are staying here illegally. However, only 38% of them return to their country of origin or the last country through which they transited to enter the EU. The figure falls below 30% for returns to non-European countries. This is a real failure on the part of the EU.
According to the auditors, these low rates of return can be explained, in particular, by the difficulty of cooperating with the migrants’ countries of origin.
On 25 September 2020, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Julie Lechanteux of the Identity and Democracy Group, tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
French MEP asked the Commission “what instruments does it intend to use to require the countries of origin of irregular migrants to reintegrate their nationals?”
On 2 December, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, responded on behalf of the European Commission. Commissioner Johansson in her answer reported that “to overcome challenges in returning persons with no right to stay in the EU, the New Pact on Migration and Asylum outlines the elements of an effective EU return system, anchored in EU-wide solidarity, and frames the essential cooperation of third countries on readmission within comprehensive, tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships”. She also pointed out that “humane and dignified return and readmission procedures will be a key component of these partnerships”. She further explained that “the Commission will prioritise the effective implementation of the 24 EU readmission agreements and arrangements, strive to conclude the ongoing negotiations, and explore options for new agreements, with a focus on working out practical cooperative solutions”.
“To improve cooperation on readmission, the EU will also mobilise all its relevant policies, tools and instruments” and that “under the Visa Code, the Commission can propose favourable or restrictive visa measures depending on the level of cooperation on readmission of third countries”, added Johansson.
The Home Affairs Commissioner further highlighted that “the Pact takes a further step, and foresees in the proposal for the regulation on asylum and migration management the possibility for the Commission to identify additional measures, including in other policy areas or funding instruments, to incentivise cooperation on readmission” and “this will need to bring together actions across policies, at both EU and Member State level”.
In ending, Commissioner Ylva Johansson declared that “as voluntary returns remain the most sustainable option, the Commission will present a Voluntary Return and Reintegration Strategy, developed with full understanding of the perspective of third countries” and “the strategy will promote better linkages with other development initiatives and national strategies, aiming to build partner countries’ capacity and ownership”.
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