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EU wants to focus more on deporting migrants without a right to asylum

The pressure on EU asylum policy is increasing: the number of irregular entries rose to 308,000 by the end of November last year - an increase of 68 percent compared to the same period last year.

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EU wants to focus more on deporting migrants without a right to asylum

The pressure on EU asylum policy is increasing: the number of irregular entries rose to 308,000 by the end of November last year - an increase of 68 percent compared to the same period last year. At the same time, there are far too few returns of illegal migrants to their home countries: According to preliminary figures, in 2022 only 23.3 percent fewer than every fourth asylum seeker who was required to leave the country were deported (2021: 24 percent).

Brussels now wants to take countermeasures: this year the focus should be more on deporting migrants who have no right to asylum than in previous years. To this end, the EU Commission wants to further improve cooperation with countries of transit and origin. “I expect that by the end of 2023 we will have turned things around in terms of repatriations. This of course depends on the Member States, as well as on the EU. We have to combine political determination with administrative capacity," said EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson WELT.

The EU Commission wants to give more weight to repatriations by appointing a special representative, the Belgian Mari Juritsch, who will work intensively with the member states on this issue. In this context, the EU Commissioner also welcomed the appointment of the FDP politician Joachim Stamp as the Federal Government's Migration Commissioner.

Johansson knows, of course, that appointing new officers can only be a small step. She also knows that laws alone, such as the 2009 EU Returns Directive - which is intended to guarantee a fair process, but also provides for detention pending deportation and bans on re-entry - cannot solve the problem. She also promises that the EU border protection agency Frontex "will significantly increase its support for return operations". But the real reasons for the low deportation rates lie deeper.

For example, the repatriation rates between individual EU countries sometimes vary greatly. The reason for this is that in countries with low values ​​such as the Czech Republic, Italy or France, there is apparently a lack of political will to actively deport illegal migrants. In addition, deportations are often very time-consuming for the courts and the police. In most Member States, the judicial authorities are heavily overburdened, which repeatedly leads to delays in deportations.

The EU countries must also have numerous police officers available for returns, who may also be able to track down migrants who are illegally hiding after several rejection letters. Finally, another reason for low repatriation rates is the unwillingness of countries of origin or transit countries to take back illegal migrants. So far, the EU Commission has negotiated binding repatriation agreements with 18 third countries and legally non-binding repatriation agreements with six countries. That is not enough, important countries such as Tunisia, Morocco or Egypt, which strictly refuse to reintegrate the refugees, are also missing.

“I expect further progress in migration management in 2023 because Member States see the value of a common European approach. The past year has shown that we need a whole-of-route perspective,” said Johansson. According to the interior commissioner, this included better opportunities for legal migration, new regional programs against people smuggling, investments in improved climate protection in Africa and more returns of illegal migrants, as well as developing "partnerships" with countries of origin and transit.

But how will that work? Johansson: “The EU, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has set up projects for North Africa and the rest of the continent to promote voluntary return (of illegal migrants; editor's note) and reintegration .” One such measure is the 'Prottasha Project' in Bangladesh, which provides financial support, financial advice and psychosocial support to returnees.

There is currently no chance in Brussels for key demands from Austria. With around 80,000 newly registered migrants, the country has been hit particularly hard. Austria's conservative Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) had demanded that the EU should make it possible to apply for asylum in safe countries of origin. Karner also wants to introduce a so-called rejection directive, according to which irregular migrants at the EU's external borders are to be deported again immediately. The only problem is that the third countries concerned often do not want to take the refugees back.

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