The effectiveness of return in EU Member States (EMN Inform)

This EMN Inform summarizes the main findings of the EMN study “The effectiveness of return in EU Member States: challenges and good practices linked to EU rules and standards”.

Background information

The return of illegally-staying third-country nationals is one of the main pillars of the EU’s policy on migration and asylum. However, recent Eurostat data show that return rates at EU level have not improved despite the important increase in the number of rejected asylum applications and in the number of return decisions issued since 2014.

In its 2015 EU Action Plan on Return and subsequently in its 2017 Communication on a more effective return policy and the accompanying Recommendation, the Commission emphasized the need for a stronger enforcement of EU rules on return in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the EU’s return policy.

The EMN conducted this study with the purpose of investigating good practices and challenges in Member States’ application of EU rules on return and equivalent standards.

The EU Synthesis report (which you can find here) is based on the contributions from 22 EMN National Contact Points, including Belgium The EMN Inform summarizes the findings from the study.

Inform: some findings

  • National debates increasingly focus on return, which is widely considered as a priority across Member States.
  • National practices implementing the EU framework – or equivalent standards – vary between Member States, as a result of different administrative practices, different interpretations of rules, as well as EU case law.
  • Challenges attached to the effectiveness of return relate primarily to the risk that a third-country national absconds; the difficulty in arranging voluntary departures in the timeframe defined in EU rules and standards or equivalent; the application of rules and standards, including CJEU case law, on detention; the capacity and resources needed to detain third-country nationals in the context of return procedures; the length of the return procedure, in particular when the decision is appealed.
  • Some good practices were identified in the study, for example:
    • Adopting a flexible approach to rules applicable to return and tailoring them to the individual merits of a case is also reported as a good practice to speed up some return procedures.
    • The involvement of civil society players, NGOs and international organisations in the handling of return cases and in detention centres helps fostering trust with third-country nationals and providing them with adequate, tailored support.
    • In the same vein, some Member States invest in the management of their detention facilities and training of staff, adopting a multidisciplinary approach to accommodate the needs of the detainee (in particular when s/he has special needs) and facilitate the return process.
Publication Date:
Fri 23 Feb 2018
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