Return counselling (EMN Informs)

These three EMN Informs look into i.a. possible approaches for return counselling, support for return counsellors, and information provision for the return of migrants.

Counselling is widely recognised as a key component of the return process and a crucial element to assist (irregularly staying) third-country nationals to obtain correct information about their legal possibilities to remain in Europe, as well as their opportunities to return and reintegrate in their country of origin.

That’s why the EMN has drafted a series of three Informs on this topical issue.

Please find below some key findings of the Inform entitled "Policies and practices on return counselling for migrants in EU Member States and Norway":

  • Counselling occurred at different migration stages, although most commonly at the moment of detection of irregular migration and during the return procedure after a return decision is issued.
  • In terms of the return counselling approaches used, some Member States and all NGOs and international organisations adopted a migrantcentred approach.
  • Member States, NGOs and international organisations found it difficult to monitor and measure the effectiveness of return counselling.

The second Inform focuses on “Policies and practices for the training and support of return counsellors in their role to provide migrants with timely, unbiased and reliable information on return”. This Inform shows inter alia that:

  • Different types of training for return counsellors are in place across the participating Member States, NGOs and International Organisations; most focused on knowledge or skills and could be made available at beginner/basic level or at a more advanced level according to the needs of the return counsellor.
  • There is limited personal support to help counsellors to deal with difficult and emotionally draining work. Existing practices to monitor the well-being of counsellors mostly relied on introducing a ‘duty of care’ in the manager-counsellor relation and in encouraging peer support among colleagues.

The last of the three Informs helps to gain a better understanding of the “Policies and practices on outreach and information provision for the return of migrants”. This Inform demonstrates for example that:

  • Though distinct activities in theory, in practice, outreach and information provision and return counselling were found by most Member States to be interdependent and complementary, and coincided in many instances.
  • All Member States plus Norway provided a legal or policy framework in which to carry out outreach and information activities, but these were mainly through ‘soft’ law tools (guidelines, policy documents etc).
Publication Date:
Mon 30 Mar 2020
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