Significantly more migrants without a right to stay should leave the European Union again according to the will of the EU Commission. "Those who do not have the right to stay in the European Union must be sent back to their country of origin," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in Brussels on Tuesday. Together with the responsible EU representative Mari Juritsch, she presented a strategy that should lead to more returns.
The EU has been trying for years to achieve a higher repatriation rate. In April 2021, for example, the EU Commission presented a strategy that focused primarily on voluntary returnees. In addition, the EU wants to use its visa policy, for example, to put pressure on countries that are not prepared to take back rejected asylum seekers. In fact, following a decision in October 2021, this lever has so far only been used with Gambia. An EU summit at the end of 2021 also mentioned trade relations and development aid as possible means of pressure.
So far, however, the trend has been in the opposite direction. According to the EU Commission, 29 percent of those people who should have left the EU states left the country in 2019. In 2021 the rate was 21 percent. The Brussels authority had announced a target of around 70 percent in 2018.
Johansson and Juritsch did not want to commit to a new goal on Tuesday. This can only happen in consultation with the EU states. Because they are actually responsible for returning rejected asylum seekers. The EU Commission is now primarily relying on closer cooperation between the member states and EU authorities such as Frontex in order to increase the number of returns.
Johansson: Asylum systems under pressure
"Repatriations are a shared responsibility," said Juritsch. Especially in third countries where there are no major political hurdles or problems with fundamental rights, more people would have to be sent back. In order to protect the credibility of the asylum system and to prevent unwanted border crossings, more speed is needed. She demanded that there should be advisers in every EU country to ensure more voluntary returnees.
More returns are also important because the asylum systems of the EU countries are under pressure, said Johansson. The number of asylum applications in 2022 rose by almost 50 percent to 924,000 compared to the previous year. In addition, there are four million refugees from Ukraine who do not have to apply for asylum in the EU. According to Johansson, most asylum applications were made in Germany, France, Spain and Austria. In relation to the number of inhabitants, Cyprus, Austria and Greece are particularly burdened.
The interior ministers of the EU countries are also to talk about cooperation with third countries in the case of returns at a meeting in Stockholm this Thursday. In February, an EU summit in Brussels will deal with the issue of migration.