Discover key figures about the repatriation of migrants and proposed changes to EU law.
The EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum includes new rules and the revision of existing legislation, such as the Return Directive.
In a draft resolution on the Return Directive adopted in December 2020, MEPs stressed the importance of protecting individual fundamental rights as well as respect for procedural safeguards.
In April 2023, Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the screening regulation and asylum procedures regulation ahead of discussions with the Council.
In 2022, 141,060 people were refused entry into the EU, the main reasons being not having a valid visa or residence permit (23%) or not being able to justify the purpose and conditions of stay (23%).
In 2022, EU countries issued 422,400 return decisions. However, less than a quarter of non-EU nationals were returned to a country outside the EU.
The main nationalities ordered to leave in 2022 were Algerian, Moroccan, and Pakistani.
A simplified border procedure for some asylum claims
To speed up decision-making and make asylum procedures more efficient, the European Commission proposed a faster, simplified border procedure for some asylum claims as part of the EU’s New Pact on Asylum and Migration.
The simplified procedure allows 12 weeks to process an asylum claim, plus another 12 weeks for the repatriation of rejected applicants. Unaccompanied minors, children under 12 years and their families, as well as people with medical issues can’t be dealt with under the simplified procedure.
Fabienne Keller (Renew, France), the MEP responsible for steering the asylum procedures regulation through Parliament, said: “As MEPs, we call for fair and efficient asylum procedures to make sure that people in need of protection can rapidly access refugee status, while those who are manifestly not eligible to asylum receive a quick decision and are returned to a third country.”
Voluntary departures vs forced returns
If someone co-operates with the authorities willingly after receiving a return decision, the return is termed voluntary, otherwise it is termed a forced return. A voluntary return may be assisted (meaning with financial and/or logistical support from the host country) or non-assisted.
According to Eurostat, 47% of all returns were voluntary in 2022.
Parliament wants EU countries to invest in assisted voluntary return programmes and prioritise voluntary returns, as they are more sustainable and easier to organise, including in terms of cooperation with destination countries.
Among the main practical issues hindering the return process are the identification of migrants and obtaining necessary documents from authorities of non-EU countries.
Safeguarding fundamental rights
In a resolution adopted in April 2023, Parliament called on EU countries to set up independent monitoring mechanisms to ensure respect for EU and international refugee and human rights rules.
Monitoring should take place during border surveillance (between the official border crossing points), the screening procedure and the application of border asylum and return procedures. The independent monitoring bodies should also assess reception and detention conditions.
After the vote, Birgit Sippel (S&D, Germany), who led on the new screening proposal, said: “The European Parliament can be particularly satisfied with the significantly extended mandate of the fundamental rights monitoring mechanism, which now includes border surveillance. This decision is a clear signal from Parliament that the EU should address human rights violations at our external borders and to stand up for the rule of law and fundamental rights.”