Europe asks migrants to return to homeland

Europe asks migrants to return to homeland

The European Commission set out plans on to dramatically increase the return of failed asylum seekers to their country of origin

Commission is worried

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson and EU Returns Coordinator Mari Juritsch, who was appointed to the newly created role in May 2022, outlined a ‘strategy for more effective returns’ that will feed into the Justice and Home Affairs meeting on Thursday in Stockholm and the next EU leaders’ summit in Brussels in February, Euractiv writes.  “We are experiencing an increase in irregular arrivals,” Johansson told reporters, adding that more than 330,000 irregular arrivals were detected by Frontex, the EU’s border agency, last year, an increase of 100,000. She added that the majority of those are not in need of international protection but have applied anyway. Those who are not in need of international protection need to return to their country of origin. Only about 70,000 are being returned each year, compared to over 300,000 asylum decisions. “Member states can’t solve it alone and the Commission can’t solve it alone either,” said Johansson. 

EC's plan

The Commission blueprint proposes that the EU should set a target of specific third countries to focus on increasing returns to. It also urges national authorities to work together to address abuse of the system where applicants with asylum in one member state apply in another member state. Elsewhere, it states that EU governments should ensure that a decision ending a stay should immediately be followed by a return decision.  The bloc’s scandal-ridden border agency, Frontex, is also set to be given more power to deal with returns, said Johansson. Currently, only 16% of the return decisions in member states are followed by a readmission request to the third country that they should go back to. The number of migrant returns also dropped by 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the European Commission. 

Why don't migrants return home?

The low levels of migrant returns have been a long-running problem for the EU and are largely the result of national immigration authorities being overstretched, poor communication across the EU and the reluctance by third countries to accept failed asylum seekers. Several EU governments have mooted the prospect of cutting development aid for countries that do not take migrants back, although this idea has so far gained little traction. A total of 924,000 asylum applications were made across the EU27 last year, three times more than the number of irregular arrivals, with the bulk of the cases in Germany, France, Spain and Austria. However, Cyprus has the most applications per capita, followed by Austria. 

Meanwhile, capacities have been further stretched by the 4 million Ukrainian refugees currently being hosted in the EU and are under “huge pressure”, said Johansson. The EU executive does not intend to set an overall target for increasing returns, instead leaving this to national governments.  “Clearly, the issue is that returns are not yet perceived as a common field of work and as a shared responsibility,” said Juritsch. “I cannot help but compare our work in returns to the work we do in relation to external borders. We are not doing well with our returns in terms of numbers and the perspective does not look good either unless something changes,” she added. 

Vestnik Kavkaza earlier reported that Migrants make up 3.6% of global population, and last year President Emmanuel Macron proposed a tougher stance on deportations, while also extending work opportunities for migrants with needed skills