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EU Adopts New Migration Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration

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Credit: Frontex Facebook page

The European Commission announced earlier this week that the Union is adopting the first EU migration Strategy on voluntary return and reintegration of migrants who have reached European shores.

The Strategy promotes voluntary return and reintegration as an integral part of a common EU system for returns, a key objective under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

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According to European officials, the new strategy on migration at a European level sets out practical measures to strengthen the legal and operational framework for voluntary returns from Europe and from transit countries, improve the quality of return and reintegration programmes, establish better links with development initiatives and strengthen cooperation with partner countries.

Issuing a statement on the occasion, the Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas said that ”The EU is building a new ecosystem on returns – looking at increasing cooperation on readmission, improving the governance framework, equipping Frontex with a new operational mandate on returns and appointing an EU Return Coordinator.”

Schinas also noted that ”Today’s Strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration is another piece of that puzzle. Returns are more effective when they are voluntary and accompanied by genuine reintegration options for returnees and this Strategy will develop a more uniform and coordinated approach among Member States to unlock their full potential.”

The new EU migration strategy

According to the plans of the EU officials, gaps between asylum and return procedures, challenges in preventing absconding, insufficient resources, lack of data, overall fragmentation and limited administrative capacity to follow-up on return decisions all ”contribute to the low uptake in assisted voluntary returns programmes”.

Through the proposed recast ”Return Directive”, the amended proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation, the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation and the revised Eurodac Regulation, the Commission ”will continue to put in place fast and fair common procedures and rules on asylum and return, monitor the granting of return and reintegration assistance and reduce the risk of unauthorised movements.”

Through its enhanced mandate, Frontex can support the Member States in all stages of the voluntary return and reintegration process, including pre-return counselling, post-arrival support and monitoring the effectiveness of reintegration assistance.

The Return Coordinator and High-Level Network for Return will provide further technical support to the Member States in bringing together different strands of EU return policy.

On top of that, the European Union aims to strengthen its cooperation with nearby nations that play a crucial role in managing migrant flows toward Europe.

”Cooperation on voluntary return and reintegration is a key aspect of migration partnerships that the EU will strengthen under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EU will support the ownership of reintegration processes in partner countries with capacity building, providing staff with the necessary skills, or supporting governance structures to cater to the specific economic, social and psychosocial needs of returnees,” a statement of the Commission stated.

”The EU will also continue to provide assistance for voluntary return and reintegration of migrants stranded in other countries, including through exploring new partnerships. Finally, the EU will strengthen links between reintegration programmes and other relevant development initiatives in partner countries. The Commission will ensure a more coordinated use of the financial resources that will be available under different EU funds to support the entirety of the voluntary return and reintegration process,” the Brussels announcement noted.

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