Good practices in the return and reintegration of irregular migrants in Belgium and in the EU (EMN)

This focused study presents an analysis of (Member) States’ use of entry bans and readmission agreements and also identify good practices in this field, including possible synergies in the implementation of return and reintegration measures.

Background information

The study is mainly concerned with the implementation of an effective return process. The main legal instruments for the EU return policy include EU Readmission Agreements (EURAs) and the 2008 Return Directive. The return of irregularly staying third-country nationals, is an important aspect in the fight against irregular migration and essential to the credibility of the EU common migration and asylum policy. However, any return may only be carried out in compliance with EU and other international human rights’ guarantees.

This study focuses on two return policy measures that are used by Member States in their efforts to implement effective return policies:

  • Entry bans that may accompany return decisions, in accordance with the Return Directive Article 11, and
  • Readmission agreements whether EU or separate bilateral agreements

Belgian Study

The Belgian Study reviews the national legal framework for imposing entry bans, in particular the grounds for issuing an entry ban (including criteria/indicators for assessing whether the grounds apply in individual cases), the categories of third-country nationals who can be issued such a ban, and the territorial scope of the entry ban. It also provides an overview of the authorities responsible for the imposition and decision-making of entry bans, their practical implementation and Member States’ cooperation for that purpose. It also includes questions about the perceived or actual effectiveness of entry bans, the main challenges associated with entry bans and any evidence of good practice.

  • In Belgium, in 2013, more than 9.000 entry bans were issued. In 2013 an information campaign was also conducted about entry bans.
  • Since 2 July 2012 Belgian authorities may issue an entry ban annexed to an order to leave the territory to illegally staying third-country nationals. This results from the transposition of Directive 2008/115/CE (Return Directive) into Belgian law.

The Belgian Study also investigates the practical application of EU and separate bi-lateral readmission agreements of Belgium with third countries.

  • Currently, 16 EU readmission agreements have been signed and entered into force. In addition, 5 separate formal readmission agreements are in place between Benelux countries and third-countries.
  • In 2013, 1.139 readmission applications were made by Belgium under the EU Readmission Agreements.

In view of the important role that reintegration assistance can play in ensuring the sustainability of returns, the Belgium Study intends to examine the dependencies that might exist between entry bans and readmission agreements, on the one hand, and reintegration assistance, on the other hand.

EU Synthesis Report

The synthesis report is based on contributions from EMN National Contact Points in 24 Member States plus Norway. Besides this, an EMN Inform summarizes the findings from the study.

Some key points:

  • The Return Directive has resulted in an increased harmonized legal framework on entry bans at national level. However, different approaches for the imposition of entry bans remain along with (Member) States adopting either more stringent or lenient approaches.
  • Entry bans may be applied as a coercive policy measure to serve as a deterrent for irregularly staying third-country nationals, and as an “incentive” to encourage voluntary return.
  • Limited evaluation as well as limited conclusive statistical evidence makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions on the effectiveness of entry bans.
  • Where data is available, the study shows that EURAs are generally effective return tools in relation to the share of readmission applications receiving a positive reply, and overall, no systematic problems in cooperating with third countries under EURAs were identified in the study. However, some practical challenges may limit their effectiveness.
  • The majority of (Member) States have also signed national bilateral readmission agreements as well as certain non-standard agreements. These are mainly (though not exclusively) used to carry out forced return.
  • Practical implementation obstacles include insufficient cooperation from third countries and delays in receiving replies on readmission requests.

Overall, this study has shown that synergies amongst the various tools at their disposal to bring about better outcomes for sustainable return have been developed in some Member States, but are at the early stages of development. Such synergies exist in more Member States between the implementation of readmission agreements and reintegration assistance than in relation to entry-bans.

Whilst limited evaluation evidence prevents the possibility of linking such synergies to efficiencies or effectiveness, there is scope for learning between Member States on the different practices in place.

Publication Date:
Thu 11 Dec 2014
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