15 March 2017

European Migration Program

At the Malta summit on 3 February 2017, attention was put on the need for a review of the return policy of the European Union. The European Commission has therefore adopted an updated EU Action Plan on this issue and a set of recommendations to help Member States improve the efficiency of return procedures.

The measures proposed by the Commission are the practical actions that can produce rapid results. These include, above all, the elimination of legal loopholes and the strict application of existing legislation, which is necessary to ensure their effectiveness in practice, while respecting fundamental rights.

According to the European Commission, despite the progress made in implementing the measures in the framework of the EU Action Plan to the return of 2015,  more determined efforts are still necessary to significantly increase the percentage of returns. In view of the current migration challenges, the Commission indicates the need for an analysis of the possibilities for Member States to make better use of EU legal, operational and financial instruments in the return area. Faster procedures, more effective prevention of escape, a multidisciplinary approach from national authorities, and improved cooperation between Member States can ensure a more effective return policy without undermining safeguards that guarantee respect for fundamental rights.

The Commission has provided the Member States with guidance to help them take concrete and immediate action in the implementation of EU return regulations, including:

  • improving the coordination of all services and authorities involved in the return process,
  • improving efficiency by shortening the time limits for dealing with appeals and systematically issuing decisions ordering return,
  • take action to address the abuse of the system and use the capacity to evaluate applications for protection under accelerated procedures,
  • preventing the escape of those who received a decision ordering the return.

The updated return action plan sets the stage for each step of the process. They are directed to the main challenges in this regard both at EU level and in cooperation with countries of origin and transit.

As indicated in the European Migration Program of May 2015, an effective and humane return policy is an important part of the comprehensive EU approach to migration and the reduction of illegal migration.

The whole European Commission communication is available HERE.