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EU to step up migrant returns

The EU will be spearheading new return measures, set to be presented before the end of this month. 

New EU proposals on sending unwanted migrants back to their homes countries and creating new legal routes for those requiring protection are set to be unveiled before the end of the month.  Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, told MEPs on Wednesday (13 September) that people with no rights to stay in Europe must be sent home.

"When only 36 percent of irregular migrants are returned, it is clear we need to significantly step up our work," he said in his state of the union speech in Strasbourg.  He said the commission will present a new set of proposals, with an emphasis on "returns, solidarity with Africa and opening legal pathways."

The EU has had a return directive in place since 2010 and proposed, earlier this year, additional measures followed by controversial recommendations that allowed police to lock up children "as a last resort".  In a letter addressed to European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, Juncker spoke of "targeted measures" on returns and getting member states to resettle more refugees as a part of his legal route initiative.

However, in Brussels on Thursday, interior ministers from the EU states will keep their focus on shipping people home. The ministers are meeting to thrash out ideas on stepping up the pace of returns, removing internal administrative bottlenecks, and forcing reluctant countries to take back their nationals. No discussion is set to take place on legal routes, a proposition that Juncker on Wednesday said was needed to stop people from taking the perilous journeys towards Europe in the first place.

But pressure to increase the pace of returns remains high and a priority among EU leaders, who also claim their policies have resulted in the sharp drop of migrants disembarking from the Libyan coast.  Ministers are also expected on Thursday to increase support for the Libyan coastguard, which has plucked an estimated 23,000 from its territorial waters in 2016 up until the first half of 2017, and returned them to Libya.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is also present in Libya, gave other reasons for why fewer people are leaving the country. On Wednesday, Eugenio Ambrosi, the IOM's Brussels office regional director, told reporters that a spike in fighting among different militia groups, where boats usually disembark from, and unusually rough seas also played a factor in the drop of arrivals in August. "There are also a lot of other rumours, which I will not get into because I don't want to speculate and also I still need to keep my job," Ambrosi said.

Source: EUobserver


Päivitetty/Updated: 13.09.2017

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