Many countries around the globe are grappling with policy questions surrounding the return of irregular migrants and asylum seekers whose claims have been denied. In Europe, policymakers have long been concerned about low return rates. And discussions on how to increase the number of returns (including voluntary ones), while conducting them in a humane way, and achieving sustainable reintegration are high on the European Union (EU) agenda.
In April, the European Commission took a step toward the creation of a common EU return system, releasing its first Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration. The strategy aims to increase the number of voluntary returns, but also to improve EU Member States’ coordination on their respective Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programs and make reintegration in origin countries more sustainable. To achieve these objectives, European policymakers need to secure cooperation with migrants’ countries of origin—an often-neglected dimension of AVRR programs. However, these countries may be disinclined towards cooperation, concerned about the loss of remittances, negative public opinion, and increasing pressure on job markets and public service delivery already stressed by the pandemic. Still, voluntary return and reintegration may be one area where there are tangible opportunities for EU Member States and origin countries alike to build on some converging goals.
This MPI Europe event marks the release of a new policy brief EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration: Crafting a Road Map to Better Cooperation with Migrants’ Countries of Origin. Speakers examine origin- and destination-country policy priorities, opportunities for cooperation, challenges and structural limitations that shape what can be achieved, and possible next steps for building on the principles identified in the EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration, starting a new chapter for EU-funded AVRR programs.