New Council returns and readmission strategy to target African countries
- By-passing formal readmission agreements: "a number of non-legally binding informal arrangements aimed at reinforcing cooperation in the area of return policy have been concluded with a number of relevant third countries."
- "The gap between the orders to leave the territory and the effectively implemented returns remains significant. In particular, cooperation with relevant African countries is still totally unsatisfactory."
- "Partnership Framework" in Africa: Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This policy is best seen as asking EU Member States to use their histories of imperialism, oppression and exploitation to get African states to sort out the EUs problem."
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The Bulgarian Council Presidency has circulated a "Draft" Note to Member States on: "Enhancing the returns from the European Union" (LIMITE doc no: 6047-18, pdf) seeks takes forward:
"one of the main objectives of the return and readmission policy aims is to increase the return rate (....) to stem the flows and increase returns."
It notes that "some progress has been made by increasing the "return rate":
"According to recent data provided by the Commission in November 2017, the return rate in 2016 for the EU as a whole was 45.80%, a marked increase to 2015 (36,80%)." [emphasis added throughout]
At the "external level"
The Council Note says:
"The implementation of the Partnership Framework, launched in June 2016, has enabled to develop and reinforce cooperation in the area of migration significantly, including in the field of return and readmission. In this context, special attention has been devoted to a number of third countries that are of particular importance for the EU and its Member States.
In addition to the conventional readmission agreements, a number of non-legally binding informal arrangements aimed at reinforcing cooperation in the area of return policy have been concluded with a number of relevant third countries. The timely implementation of such arrangements is expected to contribute to an increase of returns."
The "Partnership Framework" are based on the EU-defined threat that:
"there must be consequences for those who do not cooperate on readmission and return.
Through the loss of aid and trade.
The Commission has adopted a class neo-colonial stance:
"The special relationships that Member States may have with third countries, reflecting political, historic and cultural ties fostered through decades of contacts, should also be exploited to the full for the benefit of the EU. At present, the opposite is often the case. Trust needs to be built up.
The strategy of creating "non-legally binding informal arrangements" with individual targeted countries is intended to by-passes the setting up for formal readmission agreements which have to be agreed by the European Parliament.
Targeting non-compliant African countries
The Notes says:
"It is worth noting the new process which enables to take measures in the field of visa policy in relation to those third countries which do not cooperate or do not sufficiently cooperate in the area of return and readmission."
This refers to the Council policy as set out in: Link between return/readmission and visa policies (RESTRICTED doc no: 9097-17, pdf).
And see: Analysis: The EU goes to war with African elite (pdf) which concluded:
"EU to target African governments, officials and others with the threat to refuse or delay visas to enforce its returns and readmission policies
EU starts setting out the consequences of non-cooperation by agreeing Measures targeting the "elite" of third countries.
This is made explicit in the Council note:
"The gap between the orders to leave the territory and the effectively implemented returns remains significant. In particular, cooperation with relevant African countries is still totally unsatisfactory."
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, commented:
"This policy is best seen as asking EU Member States to use their histories of imperialism and exploitation to get African states to sort out the EUs problem."
Renewed Return Handbook
At the internal level the Commission issued a Renewed Return Handbook (pdf) last September which:
"involves addressing any shortcomings in the implementation of the Return Directive, so as to help to increase the return rate."
"The Return Directive does not prescribe in detail how national forced-return monitoring systems should look like. It leaves wide margin of discretion to Member States. Based on the wording of the Directive and its context, some orientation can, however, be given:
1) forced-return monitoring should be understood as covering all activities undertaken by Member States in the respect of removal from the preparation of departure, until reception in the country of return or in the case of failed removal until return to the point of departure. It does not cover post-return monitoring, i.e. the period following reception of the returnee in a third country;
2) monitoring systems should include involvement of organisations/bodies different and independent from the authorities enforcing return ("nemo monitor in res sua");
3) public bodies, such as a national Ombudsman or an independent general inspection body, may act as monitor. However, it seems problematic to assign a monitoring role to a subsection of the same administration which also carries out return/removals;
4) the mere existence of judicial remedies in individual cases or national systems of the supervision of the efficiency of national return policies cannot be considered as a valid application of Article 8(6) of the Return Directive;
5) there is no automatic obligation on the Member States to finance all costs incurred by the monitor (such as staff costs), but Member States are obliged that overall a forced return monitoring system is up and running (effet utile);
6) Article 8(6) of the Return Directive does not imply an obligation to monitor each single removal operation. A monitoring system based on spot checks and monitoring of random samples may be considered sufficient as long as the monitoring intensity is sufficiently close to guarantee overall efficiency of monitoring."
New roles for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency
"The new tasks that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (hereinafter "the Agency") has been allocated under its new Regulation should also have a positive impact in this area. Among other measures, the Agency, which has created a Return Unit, has developed new tools in the area of returns, offering support in organizing scheduled (commercial) flights, currently in the form of a pilot project, with destinations to Algeria and Morocco.
Better use of this will allow for a well-founded assessment for future use. Chartering of aircrafts has also been put in place, providing a new tool for Member States to use in return operations which is currently underused. The Agency also supports the deployment of Member States experts as Return Specialists and encourages Member States to use the forced-return escorts pool."
Statewatch Analysis: The EU goes to war with African elite (pdf)
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