12 October 2022
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".
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"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."
"...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.
The three other "priority actions" proposed by the Presidency cover:
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