More deportations – but how?: Interior Minister Faeser consults with EU colleagues

In view of the overburdened asylum systems in many EU countries, the European Union wants to deport significantly more rejected asylum seekers to their homeland. At a meeting in Stockholm, the interior ministers of the EU countries are to discuss, among other things, how the notoriously low quota can be increased this Thursday (9.30 a.m.).

Above all, cooperation with countries outside the EU will be considered. “One of the main reasons for the low EU return rate is the lack of cooperation from third countries,” says a discussion paper shared by the Swedish Presidency ahead of the meeting with capitals. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is expected to attend the meeting for Germany.

The EU has been trying for years to return more people without a right to stay, but is making little progress. “Those who are not entitled to stay in the European Union must be sent back to their country of origin,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on Tuesday.

In 2019, the proportion of people who were obliged to leave the EU and who actually left the EU was 29 percent. In 2021 it was – probably also due to corona – only 21 percent. The Brussels authority had announced a target of around 70 percent in 2018. The traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP also announced a “repatriation offensive” in the coalition agreement.

The number of deportations in Germany is declining

12,945 foreigners were deported from Germany last year. Before the corona pandemic in 2019, there had been more than 22,000 deportations. The current EU return system is “highly inefficient and therefore does the opposite of what it is supposed to do: instead of deterring it, it encourages illegal migration,” according to a report by the European Court of Auditors at the end of 2021.

There are many reasons for the low rate. For one thing, many EU countries are not consistently implementing their decisions. For example, only a few countries use the opportunity to use the EU agency Frontex for deportation flights. On the other hand, many third countries do not cooperate with the EU.

In Brussels, Morocco and Algeria as well as states on the Horn of Africa are mentioned as uncooperative countries from which many people come to the EU. An EU summit in December 2021 named visa policy, trade relations and development aid as possible means of pressure.

Article 25a as a possible leverage

The Swedish EU Council Presidency relies primarily on the first instrument and thus on Article 25a of the Visa Code. This makes it possible to put pressure on countries that do not take back their nationals by issuing visas. For example, the processing time for visa applications could take longer or fees could be increased. According to the discussion paper, the mechanism could be “one of the most important instruments for improving cooperation with third countries in the area of ​​return and readmission”.

In fact, the EU Commission has so far only proposed using this pressure tool for four countries – Bangladesh, Iraq, Gambia and Senegal. However, the EU states have only accepted the proposal for Gambia. The real purpose of Article 25a is not to apply it, but to threaten it. According to Brussels, cooperation with Bangladesh has improved simply because of the Commission’s proposal.

With a view to the meeting of interior ministers and a special EU summit in February, the EU Commission presented a strategy this week that is intended to ensure more deportations. For rapid success, this relies, among other things, on more cooperation between the EU states, on more speed and more deportations to countries where there are no major political hurdles or problems with fundamental rights.

According to Interior Commissioner Johansson, this is also important because the asylum systems of many EU countries are under great pressure. The number of asylum applications in 2022 rose by almost 50 percent to 924,000 compared to the previous year. In addition, there are four million refugees from Ukraine who do not have to apply for asylum in the EU. (dpa)

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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