EU pushes for voluntary return of immigrants denied of residence

The European Commission on Tuesday adopted a strategy on voluntary return and reintegration in a bid to address the issue of illegal migration that has plagued the European continent for years.

It sets out practical measures to strengthen the legal and operational framework for voluntary returns from Europe and from transit countries, improve the quality of return and reintegration programs, establish better links with development initiatives and strengthen cooperation with partner countries, read a press release from the commission.

The strategy’s new tools include the creation of “return coordinators” and an enhanced mandate for Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Frontex now becomes the new European Return Agency, on top of its current role of border management, said the commission’s Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

The strategy is “an important piece of the puzzle” when it comes to migration and asylum in the EU, said Schinas.

So far, only a third of people with no right to stay in the EU return to their country of origin, and among those who do, fewer than 30 percent do so voluntarily, said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

When it takes a long time to hear the final decision, it is more difficult for people to willingly return to their country of origin, according to Johansson.

“Voluntary returns are always the better option: they put the individual at the core, they are more effective and less costly,” she said.