Brussels (EFE).- The European Commission presented on Tuesday a “new operational strategy” that will try to increase, through greater coordination, the returns of irregular migrants, which have remained at very low levels for years.
The objective is to “increase the total number of effective returns, through rapid implementation”, respecting EU legislation and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, specified the Community Executive.
According to the Eurostat statistical office, of the more than 340,500 return orders issued in 2021 in the EU, only 21% were actually complied with.
Furthermore, only five Member States are responsible for 80% of the returns that the European Border Agency Frontex is helping.
The Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson, and the European Coordinator for Returns, Mari Juritsch, presented the new initiative today at a press conference.
Johansson referred to the increase in irregular arrivals to the EU, “more than 330,000 irregular arrivals detected by Frontex last year, an increase of 100,000,” he said.
“Most are people who do not need international protection, but many submitted asylum applications. That puts reception systems and capabilities under great pressure,” said the commissioner.
In addition, last year, 924,000 asylum applications were filed in the EU, almost double the previous year and most were filed in Germany, France, Spain and Austria, Johansson said.
In parallel, the so-called “secondary movements” increased, from the countries through which migrants enter the EU and other Member States.
According to the commissioner, in order to improve returns it is important, among other things, that return orders be immediately followed by requests for readmission to the countries of origin.
It is also necessary to “work as a team” in the EU, stressed the commissioner, something in which the European Coordinator of Returns, Mari Juritsch, agreed, who recognized that the returns of irregulars are not now seen in the EU as a “shared” responsibility. .
The new strategy covers four areas: actions to respond to immediate needs -including joint return operations to defined third countries-, measures to speed up the return process, as well as promoting return and reintegration counseling and digitization of returns management.
According to a Commission document released today, returns policy “is a complex area” with “a major weakness being the lack of reliable data on how the EU return system works.”
“This in turn makes it difficult to determine precisely how to improve its effectiveness,” the same document adds.
To improve the policy, it considers it necessary to “streamline and optimize procedures in each Member State, complying with fundamental rights, including the protection of personal data, and making faster and more effective returns.”
“Although much progress has been made, Member States still face significant bottlenecks and a lack of coordination between the actors in the process,” he points out.
Brussels will present the new strategy to the EU interior ministers in an informal meeting that they will hold on January 26 and 27 in Stockholm.
“A more coordinated action in terms of voluntary return and reintegration will facilitate the implementation of the new return border procedure, as well as compliance with the new solidarity measure in the form of return sponsorship,” according to the EC.
They also want to create “closer links with development initiatives and national strategies in non-EU countries”, to help in the return, readmission and reintegration of their citizens.
The Commission has already adopted a strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration in 2021.