European Commission publishes the first EU Strategy on voluntary return and reintegration

27 Apr 2021

The European Commission has published the first EU Strategy on voluntary return and reintegration.

The Strategy sets out to develop a more uniform and coordinated approach among Member States to better realise the potential of voluntary return and reintegration, and to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the common EU system for returns for the mutual benefit of the returnees, the EU and third countries.

The Commission intends for the Strategy to put in place an effective legal and operational framework, making use of 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 Strategy foresees improving the quality of assisted voluntary return programmes by developing a common curriculum for return counsellors and making better use of tools such as the Return and Reintegration Assistance Inventory and the Reintegration Assistance Tool, and strengthened cooperation with partner countries. The Strategy notes that while the 2008 Return Directive prioritises voluntary over forced return, it does not provide a framework for setting up and running assisted voluntary return programmes or for supporting reintegration.

The Commission stated its intention to use the Strategy to build upon previous achievements and initiatives in previous years, such as the European Return and Reintegration Network, the EU Framework on Return Counselling (developed within EMN), and the EU-International Organization for Migration (IOM) Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. The Strategy promotes voluntary return and reintegration as an integral part of a common EU system for returns, which is a key objective under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Note: Ireland does not participate in the EU Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals).

For more information, see;

The EU Strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration communication

The New Pact on Migration and Asylum 

EMN Inform Package on Return Counselling