Personal Immigration

Non-compliance with the Return Directive

The European Commission has asked eight Member States to ensure full compliance with EU rules on the return or removal of irregular migrants. So far Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and The Netherlands have not notified the Commission of national measures implementing the 2008 'Return' Directive. Member States were required to transpose the provisions of the Directive by 24th December 2010, and their failure to do so is jeopardizing the efficiency and fairness of the common return procedure and undermining the EU's migration policy.

The Return Directive provides for clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning return, removal, detention and re-entry, which take into full account the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned. In the past, Member States’ legislation and practice in the field of return have differed widely. The Return Directive lays down a binding common legal frame for a European return policy and guarantees that all returns are carried out in a humane and dignified manner.

This also is the first EU legal instrument to provide for a common catalogue of specific rights for irregular migrants. Notably, the Return Directive extends the right to non-refoulement to any illegally staying person, where before this right was only guaranteed for asylum seekers.

The Directive is one element of a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy, which also includes measures for organising legal migration and for combating those who engage in trafficking in human beings and economic exploitation of migrants.

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