Brussels (dpa) – EU interior ministers are discussing today how more denied protection seekers can be returned to their home countries in the future.
This is part of a recent effort to work more closely with countries of transit and origin of migrants. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) and his colleagues are not expected to make decisions on the subject during the video conference.
For a long time, EU Member States have failed to agree on a comprehensive reform of EU asylum policy. In any case, everyone agrees that we need to be more consistent with repatriations. For years it has not been possible to significantly increase the quota of people who have to leave the EU who actually leave the EU.
In 2018, the European Commission set a target to increase the return rate to around 70 percent by 2020. This would mean that seven out of ten people who have to leave the EU will leave the EU. According to the European Commission, in 2019 only 29 percent of people who should have left the EU countries left the country.
The low return rate across the EU is due to both the EU Member States and the third countries. For example, they do not provide the necessary documents for their fellow countrymen. Moreover, the willing withdrawal of their own citizens is not necessarily a winning issue for the governments in the country of origin. Some of those affected go into hiding in the EU countries.
According to a report by the European Commission in early February, cooperation with more than a third of the countries surveyed needs to be improved. The authority has not made public which countries are targeted, even when requested. In the other countries surveyed, cooperation in the field of return and readmission is good or average.
Interior ministers want to discuss today how more people can be repatriated in cooperation with countries of origin. This is likely to bring incentives as well as potential drawbacks to those states that do not cooperate. For example, the EU uses visa issuing to exert pressure on the countries of origin. Other levers could be trade policy and development aid. In the field of cooperation, aspects such as cooperation on climate policy, the Erasmus exchange program or legal migration can play a role.
Green European politician Franziska Brantner warned: “A visa bazaar for more returns to third countries is legally questionable. Is the engineer from Tunisia not allowed to come because a Tunisian who has to leave the country will not be taken back? The rule of law procedures must be observed, she told the German news agency. The situation in the countries of origin must also be carefully considered, for example if certain groups are not safe there.
Such aspects will also be discussed at a joint video conference of EU interior and foreign ministers next Monday. Then it must concern the external aspects of migration policy as a whole. More specifically, closer relations with third countries in this area will be discussed.
At the proposal of the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council, relations with North African countries such as Egypt are also on the program on Friday. Ministers also want to discuss a proposal from the European Commission that protects critical infrastructure such as hospitals or energy networks better against cyber attacks and natural disasters.