MEPs identify gaps and deficiencies in EU Return Directive 

Comunicat de presă 

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  • Need to invest more for swift and fair procedures 
  • Voluntary returns should be an alternative to forced removals and detention 
  • Call for effective monitoring bodies for returns in Members States and Frontex 

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs stress the importance of safeguarding individual fundamental rights as well as respect for procedural safeguards when applying EU legislation on returns.

In a draft resolution approved on Tuesday with 51 votes in favour, 14 against and 3 abstentions, the committee says that the effectiveness of the EU’s return policy should not only be measured in terms of return rates, but also in terms of sustainability and implementation of fundamental rights safeguards and procedural guarantees when returning illegally staying third country nationals.

Member States should allocate adequate human resources and sufficient training to responsible authorities, MEPs note. They consider that, when possible, voluntary returns should be prioritised because they are more sustainable and protect better the fundamental rights of the persons concerned. Particular attention has to be given to the situation of unaccompanied minors, who should not be returned unless it can be proved it is in their best interest.

MEPs also urge Member States to ensure procedural safeguards and respect for human rights at borders, where it is possible to derogate from the provisions of the directive. MEPs are concerned that, due to inconsistent application of the law, detention is imposed in a systematic manner in many Member States, whereas it should remain a measure of last resort.


Rapporteur Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA) said: “With no evaluation of the Return Directive from the Commission since 2014, this report finally enables all actors to do an evidence-based assessment. We send an important message that increasing the rate of returns should not be at the expense of fundamental rights and procedural safeguards. Voluntary returns should prevail over forced removal and detention measures."


According to Eurostat data, Member States issued over 490.000 return decisions in 2019. EU legislation in this area, the Return Directive, establishes common standards and procedures for the returning of illegally staying third-country nationals. In 2018 the European Commission proposed an amendment to the existing Return Directive which is currently being examined by the Civil Liberties Committee. In the absence of accompanying impact assessment , the European Parliament released a substitute impact assessment in March 2019.

Next steps

Parliament as a whole will vote on the draft non-legislative resolution during the next plenary session (14-18 December 2020).