The EU’s cooperation with non-EU countries has not been efficient in ensuring that migrants illegally present on EU territory return to their own countries, according to a special report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). During the 2015-2020 period, the EU only achieved limited progress in concluding readmission agreements with non-EU countries. In addition, EU actions have not been streamlined enough to ensure that non-EU countries comply with their readmission obligations in practice.
Each year since 2008, about half a million non-EU citizens have been ordered to leave the EU because they had entered it, or were staying, without authorisation. However, less than 1 in 5 actually do return to their own countries outside Europe. One of the reasons for the low number of returning irregular migrants is the difficulty of cooperating with migrants’ countries of origin. The EU has therefore already concluded 18 legally binding readmission agreements, and formally opened discussions with six further countries. Recently, it has also negotiated six non-legally binding arrangements for returns and readmissions.
“We expect our audit to feed into the debate on the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum, because an effective and well-managed readmission policy is an essential part of a comprehensive migration policy”, said Leo Brincat, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “Nevertheless, the current EU returns system suffers greatly from inefficiencies that lead to the opposite of the intended effect: encouraging, rather than discouraging, illegal migration.”