In the European Union, less than 40 percent of expelled illegal immigrants eventually return to their country of origin or third country, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has determined.
Since 2008, around 500,000 foreign nationals per year have been ordered to leave the European Union, but on average only 38 percent of them have eventually left.
In the case of people arriving in the EU from non-European countries, the number drops below 30 percent. In 2018, it was 25 percent. The numbers of expelled people leaving voluntarily and those forced to leave are roughly equal.
Less than 40 % of the irregular migrants ordered to leave the ?? #EU actually return to their home country or a third country. We will assess whether the suite of measures the @EU_Commission took after 2015 have improved #cooperation with priority third countries ?
— European Court of Auditors (@EUauditors) July 28, 2020
The problem has been discussed for some time at the EU level. For example, in 2015, the European Commission came up with an action plan on deportation. It stated that the readmission of illegal immigrants should be a priority concern in relations with countries external to the EU.
In 2016, a “Partnership Framework on Migration” was introduced. The document included visa facilitation and development assistance for certain countries in exchange for their commitment to take back more migrants. A renewed action plan with new recommendations followed in 2017.
The EU concluded 18 legally binding readmission agreements with external countries during that period, but many countries remain uninterested in signing on to such an arrangement. Even in many countries that have signed a readmission agreement, the return rate is still remarkably low.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is now examining the progress made by the EU since 2015. While there is no clear overview of how much money the EU spent on cooperation with third countries in terms of migrant readmission, there have been at least 59 projects worth €641 million.
Title image: Refugees and migrants sit atop a heavily-listing small vessel as they try to travel from the Turkish coast to Skala Sykaminias on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Authorities in Greece say 21 people have died in other islands after two boats carrying migrants and refugees from Turkey to Greece sank overnight, in the latest deadly incidents in the eastern Aegean Sea. (AP Photo/Kostis Ntantamis)