The Return Directive: Seeking improved implementation

24-04-2015

Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures for returning illegally staying third-country nationals is part of the European Union's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). It sets out to protect returnees by establishing Schengen-wide standards and procedures for their return, based on EU and international fundamental rights and refugee-protection obligations. At the same time, it recognises the Member States' right to remove illegal stayers and safeguard their public policy and national-security interests. Given the growing numbers of non-EU nationals seeking protection or better lives in the European Union, the proper implementation of this Directive plays a crucial role in ensuring that those who do not need protection are returned safely, in dignity and with due regard to their human rights. Since its adoption, a number of judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) have either confirmed or clarified certain aspects of the Return Directive, in order to identify and address non-compliant national practices. The Commission's March 2014 communication appraised EU return policy and explored future developments. The Council responded in its June 2014 conclusions on return policy, emphasising the need to focus on improving implementation and consolidating existing rules rather than new legislative initiatives. The European Parliament's resolution of 17 December 2014 advocated, inter alia, swift processing, in collaboration with non-EU countries of origin and return, and of transit, for those who do not qualify for asylum and protection in the EU.

Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures for returning illegally staying third-country nationals is part of the European Union's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). It sets out to protect returnees by establishing Schengen-wide standards and procedures for their return, based on EU and international fundamental rights and refugee-protection obligations. At the same time, it recognises the Member States' right to remove illegal stayers and safeguard their public policy and national-security interests. Given the growing numbers of non-EU nationals seeking protection or better lives in the European Union, the proper implementation of this Directive plays a crucial role in ensuring that those who do not need protection are returned safely, in dignity and with due regard to their human rights. Since its adoption, a number of judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) have either confirmed or clarified certain aspects of the Return Directive, in order to identify and address non-compliant national practices. The Commission's March 2014 communication appraised EU return policy and explored future developments. The Council responded in its June 2014 conclusions on return policy, emphasising the need to focus on improving implementation and consolidating existing rules rather than new legislative initiatives. The European Parliament's resolution of 17 December 2014 advocated, inter alia, swift processing, in collaboration with non-EU countries of origin and return, and of transit, for those who do not qualify for asylum and protection in the EU.