EU member states should recognize expulsions

EU member states should recognize expulsions

DThe EU Commission has called on the Member States to work more closely together on the return of rejected asylum seekers and offers from the border protection authority Frontex to use. Only “very few” states would recognize return decisions from other states and thus shorten procedures.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

“Our recommendation today is that they should start using this opportunity,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Tuesday as she unveiled operational proposals on migrant returns and improving border security. Today, irregular migrants can avoid being deported by starting a new asylum procedure in another EU country. “This is obviously a real abuse of the system,” she said. It contributes to the so-called secondary migration, which means that countries inside the Union register far more asylum procedures than those on the external border.

With its proposals, the Commission is reacting to the debate on migration at the European Council in early February. The heads of state and government agreed that they want to speed up the return of rejected asylum seekers. In 2021, only 21 percent of 340,000 return decisions in the EU also accomplished. There are large differences between the Member States. Johansson recalled that only in 16 percent of the cases was an application for readmission made to the country of origin. The discrepancy with the 21 percent results from the fact that migrants returned home voluntarily before such a process was started, often encouraged by financial incentives.

A “unified ecosystem”

Recently, it has become easier to take action against multiple asylum applications. A warning message appears in the revised Schengen Information System if a person who is already required to leave one country tries to enter another country. This system, which was activated a week ago, is used at the external border and for identity checks.

The commissioner urged member states to make more use of the EU border protection agency Frontex for return flights. Only five of them made significant use of it last year, with Johansson citing Cyprus as a positive example. A flight to Bangladesh with 68 people from nine countries is planned for this Wednesday. Johansson had reached an agreement on better cooperation there last fall.

The Commission’s proposals for better border management relate to the current legal framework. It is about creating a “uniform ecosystem” and a “common culture” over the next five years, said Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who is responsible for the topic. The fifteen measures include better surveillance of the external borders with drones and cameras. In addition, new smuggling routes and migration flows should be recognized earlier. The member states should pass on data more quickly and comprehensively.

The Commission insists that effective border protection must not be at the expense of fundamental rights, but at the same time admits deficits – at least indirectly. Frontex and Member States should create a culture “based on respect for European and international law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement,” the statement said. Frontex has six months to implement it, and twelve for the member states. In 2027, the Commission wants to review the implementation.

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