Repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin, is a complex issue in the European Union (EU). In 2022, significant numbers of migrants faced entry refusal and return decisions due to visa or residency permit issues, prompting the EU to explore streamlined asylum procedures and voluntary return initiatives.
In 2022, a total of 1,41,060 individuals were denied entry into the EU for various reasons, with the most common being the absence of a valid visa or residence permit (23%) and inability to justify their stay’s purpose and conditions (23%). During the same year, EU member states issued 4,22,400 return decisions. However, less than a quarter of non-EU nationals subject to these decisions were successfully repatriated to non-EU countries.
Among the nationalities ordered to leave the EU in 2022, Algerian, Moroccan, and Pakistani individuals constituted the majority. These groups faced challenges related to visa and permit compliance, leading to their repatriation.
SIMPLIFIED BORDER PROCEDURE
To expedite decision-making and enhance the efficiency of asylum processes, the European Commission proposed a simplified border procedure as part of the EU’s New Pact on Asylum and Migration. This procedure aims to process asylum claims within 12 weeks, followed by a 12-week period for repatriating rejected applicants. Certain vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors, children under 12, and individuals with medical conditions are excluded from this simplified process.
IMPORTANCE OF VOLUNTARY RETURNS
Returns are categorized as voluntary or forced, depending on migrants’ willingness to cooperate with authorities. Eurostat data for 2022 indicates that 47% of all returns were voluntary. The EU Parliament encourages member states to invest in assisted voluntary return programs, as they are considered more sustainable and easier to coordinate with destination countries. Such initiatives prioritize migrants’ willingness to return and reduce the need for forced repatriations.
CHALLENGES AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Identifying migrants and obtaining necessary documents from non-EU authorities remain practical challenges in the repatriation process. In April 2023, the EU Parliament passed a resolution urging member states to establish independent monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with EU and international refugee and human rights regulations. These mechanisms should oversee border surveillance, screening procedures, asylum and return processes, as well as assess conditions in reception centres and detention facilities.
The repatriation of migrants in the EU is a multifaceted endeavour, influenced by legal, logistical, and ethical considerations. As the EU navigates the complexities of repatriation, the introduction of simplified asylum procedures and a focus on voluntary returns stand out as potential solutions. The preservation of migrants’ fundamental rights remains paramount, and the establishment of independent monitoring mechanisms represents a step toward ensuring humane treatment and compliance with international standards.