Brussels, 28 March 2014
How to ensure fair, humane and effective return procedures?
An effective and humane return policy with full respect for fundamental rights is a key part of the EU migration policy. In a Communication on the EU's Return Policy adopted today, the Commission presents the progress made in this field and points to future developments and actions needed.
In recent years, significant legislative and practical changes have taken place in all Member States to establish fair and transparent rules and improve the way return procedures are carried out. The Return Directive, adopted in 2008, has established clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning the return of third-country nationals without a legal right to stay in the EU, and concerning the use of coercive measures, detention and bans on re-entry. Further progress could however be made to ensure that all guarantees provided under this are evenly implemented throughout the EU and lead to effective and humane practices across the board.
Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: "The Return Directive has positively influenced national law and practice. It has been a driver for change regarding voluntary departure and monitoring of forced return. It contributed to an overall reduction of maximum detention periods across the EU and helped to promote alternatives to detention. Still, the detention situation in a number of Member States gives rise to serious concerns. We therefore must continue our effort to enforce a credible and humane policy through practices that ensure the fundamental rights and the dignity of each individual - whatever their migratory status may be".
The Return Directive has contributed to positive developments in terms of: respect for fundamental rights; fair and efficient procedures; reduction of cases in which migrants are left without clear legal status; primacy of voluntary departure, and; promotion of reintegration and fostering of alternatives to detention.
Despite these positive changes, there is still room for improvement in the practical implementation of the Directive and for return policies in general.
Efforts should focus on: aspects linked to detention conditions; a more systematic use of alternatives to detention; the set up independent forced return monitoring systems; the overall effectiveness of the policy (e.g. faster procedures and higher rates of — voluntary — return).
Figures show a considerable gap between the persons issued with a return decision (approximately 484 000 persons in 2012, 491 000 in 2011 and 540 000 in 2010) and those who, as a consequence, have left the EU (approximately 178 000 in 2012, 167 000 in 2011 and 199 000 in 2010).
The main reasons for non-return relate to practical problems in the identification of returnees and in obtaining the necessary documentation from non-EU authorities. That is why improved cooperation with non-EU countries is a vital component for improving the effectiveness of return procedures.
Altogether, the Commission identified five main areas for action:
Communication on EU Return Policy
Cecilia Malmström's website
Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter
DG Home Affairs website
Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter