EU: Czech Council Presidency wants "substantial" increase in deportations

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The EU should "substantially" increase the number of deportations, the Czech Presidency of the Council has proposed, in a document that sets out four "priority actions in the external dimension" of migration. The Presidency also wants to pressure Serbia to change its visa policy; fight the "instrumentalisation of migration" by non-EU states; and step up the work of information-gathering networks to improve "monitoring of newly emerging trends and the related-early warning activities".

"Due to the interplay of various factors, the overall number of returns remains well below the desirable level," says a note from the Council Presidency circulated on 28 September (pdf, all emphasis in original).

The Presidency proposes changing this by making more use of Article 25a of the Visa Code, which allows the EU to place diplomatic and political pressure on states that are considered non-compliant with the EU's deportation agenda.

In particular, the Presidency wants to "revive the proposal tabled by the French Presidency at SCIFA in February 2022," which set out "a timeline for the annual process of evaluating the readmission cooperation of third countries, including subsequent strengthened outreach towards the relevant countries and effective enforcement of decisions reached."

Furthermore:

"...the Presidency also hopes that the recent appointment of the EU Return Coordinator and establishment of the High-Level Network on Return will contribute to creating a whole-of-Commission and whole-of-EU approach towards returns, embedding them firmly in the context of overall cooperation with third countries."

This is of course far from the first time that the Council has called for stepping up the number of deportations: it has been a mantra of the EU institutions for years.

Nevertheless, the appointment of high-level officials dealing solely with deportation and the plan to increase pressure on non-EU states indicate the importance given to the topic.

The possible implications for individuals subject to immigration raids, arrest and detention, not to mention the increase in expenditure and infrastructure that would be required to "substantially" increase deportations, are not mentioned by the Presidency.

Find out more about the creation of a 'Deportation Union' in our in-depth report.

The three other "priority actions" proposed by the Presidency cover:

  • Visa policy of the Western Balkan region, notably Serbia: "The non-alignment of the visa policy of the WB [Western Balkans] region with the EU’s visa policy has been most conspicuous in the case of the Republic of Serbia... intensified diplomatic outreach is needed to address the lack of alignment of the WB region’s visa regime in the short term. This should be carried at the level of EUDEL towards the relevant authorities of the respective countries, in particular in the form of high-level outreach by the Commission towards Serbia."
  • Fighting instrumentalisation of migration: "...the delegations welcomed the Presidency’s proposal to formalise a toolbox of specific actions and measures that could be utilised to effectively address the risks. The content of the toolbox is now being developed in the MOCADEM framework, where the Presidency submitted its draft action file on instrumentalisation (WK 12722/22 INIT) for the first discussion on 30 September."
  • Early warning, forecasting and monitoring of migratory trends: "...the Presidency calls for the maximum utilisation of the two existing channels – namely the Blueprint Network [AKA the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Mechanism Network] and the ISAA reports [pdf] – with a view to further enhancing their function as early-warning and preparedness mechanisms."

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