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Fair, humane and effective return procedures

The European Commission has recently given an update on progress made by the EU in ensuring that Member States have an effective and humane return policy in place for third-country nationals.

In recent years, significant legislative and practical changes have taken place in all Member States to establish fair and transparent rules and improve the way return procedures are carried out.

The Return Directive, adopted in 2008, has established clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning the return of third-country nationals without a legal right to stay in the EU, and concerning the use of coercive measures, detention and bans on re-entry.

Further progress is need however to ensure that all guarantees provided under this are evenly implemented throughout the EU and lead to effective and humane practices across the board.

Altogether, the Commission identified five main areas for action:

  • Ensuring a proper and effective implementation of the existing rules.
  • Promoting more consistent and fundamental rights-compatible practices.
  • Developing further dialogue and cooperation with non-EU countries.
  • Improving operational cooperation between Member States on return.
  • Enhancing the role of FRONTEX in the field of return.

“The Return Directive has positively influenced national law and practice,” said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. “It has been a driver for change regarding voluntary departure and monitoring of forced return. It contributed to an overall reduction of maximum detention periods across the EU and helped to promote alternatives to detention.”

“Still, the detention situation in a number of Member States gives rise to serious concerns. We therefore must continue our effort to enforce a credible and humane policy through practices that ensure the fundamental rights and the dignity of each individual – whatever their migratory status may be,” she added.

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