European Union‘s Legislation on Return Policy

jún 21 2023

Annotation: The level of irregular migration reached unexpected numbers over 2015 and 2016. Every year, thousands if irregular migrants are ordered to leave European Union’s Member States since their stay on the European soil is illegal. The author presents a short overview of some of available legislative Acts related to Return Policy of European Union. An effective Return Policy with necessary respect of Fundamental Rights is a key element for ensuring European standards. This paper introduces relevant definitions to better understand the policy on returns, best interest of child, non-refoulment principle as well as the main priority of Member States on voluntary returns. Forced returns should be used only in last resort.

Key words: European Union, Member State, returns, migration, immigration, third country national, illegal stay, irregular migration, voluntary return, removal, non-refoulment.


One of the most current topics of today’s life is migration, whether regular or illegal. On one hand, European Union‘s Member States are more open to mutual support but, on the other hand, one can notice that their solidarity are shaking to their foundations. The so-called migration crisis that has hit Europe since 2015 is not sufficient in itself to explain the rise of individualism and nationalism that can be witnessed across many Member States. The migration crisis has only exacerbated this phenomenon.

However, migration is not a new trend. In fact, people have migrated since prehistoric times, but the current situation is causing a great impact on European citizens. In particular, illegal migration is a controversial topic raised in several professional and political discussion forums. The increasing illegal stays on European soil has demonstrated both a fundamental need for a stronger legislation to control migration not only at international, but also at European and national levels.

Within the international community, the challenge of massive immigration has been tackled via different set of policies including selective migration with short- and long-term visa with strict criteria, sometimes combined with a strong return policy. This willingness to regulate the migration flows by returning illegal third country nationals has however, to consider some core human right principles including the non-refoulement one. Therefore, migration policy is always the result of a careful balance between the interests of the hosting country and the ones of the potential returnees.

European Union does not differ from this trend. A forward-looking and comprehensive European policy on immigration, based on solidarity, has always been a key objective for the European Union. Indeed, under the Lisbon Treaty, immigration policies are to be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the Member States1. The core legal basis are the Articles 79 and 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Immigration policy is intended to establish a balanced approach to deal with both regular and irregular migration. 2 Over the years, numerous conventions and conferences have been held to mitigate migration into and out of the European Union. When tackling the topic of illegal migration, the European legislators are using among the set of measures, the mean of return. Return can be defined as the process of sending back a third country national to his or her country of origin, or to a country of transit based on existing agreements or to another third country to which the third-country national concerned voluntarily decides to return and in which he or she will be accepted. The return typically takes place in the context of unsuccessful asylum claims, as the return and asylum policies are closely interlinked.

One of the most complete and recent European legislative measures set covering this topic is the Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (called hereinafter “Return Directive”). Alongside, the European policy makers have also developed a comprehensive Migration and Asylum Package, a Regulation on on the establishment of a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals3 as well as several other soft instruments like recommendations and guidelines4. This paper aims at providing a comprehensive overview of the return legislation in vigour setting out common standards and procedures to be applied in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals.

The returns overview chat stems from a perspective of upholding human rights, whether the returns directive achieves this fully or not remains up for debate. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, then UN high commissioner for human rights goes on to pen an introduction that ought to direct all efforts that the EU undertakes as far as returns legislative (and other) measures are concerned when stating that “the Universal Declaration promises to all the economic, social, political, cultural and civic rights that underpin a life free from want and fear. They are not reward for good behaviour. They are not country-specific or particular to a certain era or social group. They are inalienable entitlements of all people, at all times, and in all places-people of every colour, from every race and ethnic group; whether or not they are disabled; citizens or migrants; no matter their sex, their class, their caste, their creed or sexual orientation”5.

Does the Return Directive embody the above text? Whose interest should come first, Member States or third country migrants? Is there any difference between the Return Directive document and what happens on the ground? How are the migrants in question affected by all this? How are the EU Member States affected? All these, and more, are questions that help shed more light on the whole object of this essay.

The broad scope of return legislation

The Return Directive’s and other legislations’ scope is broad and covers any third-country national, meaning any person who is not a European citizen within the meaning of Article 17(1) of the Treaty6 neither a person enjoying the Community right of free movement, as defined in Article 2(5) of the Schengen Borders Code. To become subject to the Return Directive, a third country national must be staying illegally on the territory of Member States. However, it does not apply to Ireland and Denmark, neither on the four Schengen associated states.

Where, in the past, one Member State could not deal with irregular migrants once they jumped the fence, now the narrative has changed. It is a touch one deal with all situations, committing migration offenses in one Member State catches up with you in the next State.

The article 2 of the Return Directive provides some flexibility to the Member States by allowing them to not apply the measures to certain categories country nationals, border cases and criminal cases. In addition, it is worth noting that a lot of elements of the implementation process remain up to the discretion of the Member States. This flexibility that is always an intrinsic element of the use of directives in the EU, is bringing both advantages and drawback to the return process. Indeed, on a positive side, it allows the national authorities to ensure that all concerned individuals’ rights are upheld with attention paid to their uniqueness of each case. On the other side, one can argue that this may cause unequal treatments that might lead to the cherry picking of the potential returnees when choosing where they would like to settle in Europe.

The scope of the European legislation on illegal migration of third country nationals is even broader as one can distinguish two dimensions: one internal governed by the Return Directive but also one external that is more focused around EU readmission agreements (EURAs) with third countries and informal agreements having an equivalent effect. Indeed, the European Union is competent to conclude agreements with third countries for the readmission to their country of origin or provenance of third-country nationals who do not fulfil or no longer fulfil the conditions for entry into, or presence or residence in, a Member States. At the same time, it is also concluded with a view to returning irregular migrants and cooperating in the fight against trafficking in human beings. These agreements provide for Joint Readmissions Committees to monitor their implementation. They are also linked to visa facilitation agreements, which aim to provide the necessary incentive for readmission negotiations in the third country concerned without increasing irregular migration. Another component of the external dimension of illegal migration are the operational measures carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) along with Member States. Currently, 18 readmissions agreement have been concluded.

The return processes

The return process is composed of several steps, depending on the willingness of the individual to return home by himself/herself (voluntary return) or, on the contrary, if the return is occurring against his/her will (forced return).

A. The issuing of a return decision

When individuals have exhausted all legal avenues to legitimize their stay within the EU or who have committed offences in a Member State receive a return decision from a court or competent authorities of Member States. These decisions are taken by the relevant authorities in Member States on individual assessment. A return Decision is an administrative or judicial decision to act, stating or declaring the stay of a third-country national to be illegal and imposing or stating an obligation to return. The definition of a return decision focuses on two essential elements. First, it must contain a statement concerning the illegality of the stay. Second, this decision must clearly state the imposition of an obligation to return. Such decision may contain further elements such as an entry ban, a voluntary departure period, designation of the country of return. It may be issued in the form of a self-standing act or decision or together with other decisions, such as removal order or a decision ending legal stay. 7

A removal order is defined as an administrative or judicial decision or act ordering the enforcement of the obligation to return, namely the physical transportation out of the Member State. The removal order can either be issued together with a return decision (one -step procedure) or separately (two-step procedure). When the return decision and removal order are issued together in a one-step procedure, the individual concerned is granted a period of voluntary departure to return, if this obligation to return is not completed within this allocated time, then the removal order will be implemented by the national authorities. If the individual concerned by a return decision is leaving the country, then it is falling within the definition of a voluntary departure. In 2020, 396 400 decision orders have been issued by EU Member States8.

B. The possibility of appeal against the return decision

Steaming from the right to an effective remedy, every individual targeted by a return decision, or a removal order has the right to appeal against this decision. This process is in the hands of the authorities of the individual Member States. It is worth mentioning that only the judicial or administrative authorities of the Member State issuing the decision can repeal it or enforce it. However, as PICUM suggested, strategic litigation could also be a useful tool to address non-compliance with migrants’ fundamental rights during return processes9.

C. The return operations

In the framework of return, European institutions have established various forms of financial, logistical, operative or legislative support. When addressing the return operation process, it is essential mentioning the recently revamped and strengthened role that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) plays in return-related activities.

The support provided by Frontex to Member States in forced return operations can take the form of coordinating the operations of a Member States or the carrying out of its own return operations. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency also plays a role in voluntary departures of non-EU nationals who are subject to individual return decisions with a granted period for voluntary departure.

Most of the Member States organize return operations individually. There is, however, a possibility for two or more countries to organize a joint return operation. If one Member State organizes a return operation by air to a specific country of return and has some spare capacity on the plane, it can invite other Member States to take part. The organizing Member State informs Frontex about its intention to conduct a return flight and requests the assistance of Frontex to coordinate this operation. Frontex then dispatches this information to all other Member States. The returnees are accompanied by escort officers from the different Member States taking part in the operation, medical staff and translators. Member States shall monitor every return operation in accordance with EU legislation. All return operations must be monitored in accordance with EU law and a forced-return monitor must deliver a report to the agency and to all the Member States involved in the given operation. The monitoring covers the whole return operation, from the pre-departure phase to the hand-over of the returnees in the non-EU country of return.

D. The possibility of an entry ban

Member States have the option to produce entry bans, which takes the form of an administrative or judicial decision or act prohibiting entry into and stay on their territory for a specified period, accompanying a return decision. An entry ban is normally issued when no period of voluntary departure has been granted, or if the obligation to return has not been complied with. The length varies from case to case and does not in principle exceed five years, depending on the circumstances surrounding each case. The word ban sounds harsh and overly too stringent on the surface and at first glance but with deeper introspection it remains just but the most appropriate cause of action, putting into consideration the lenient conditions of migration in the EU.

E. The preferable alternative of voluntary return

When an individual stay is assessed as illegal, the national authorities inform all returnees about the possibility of assisted voluntary return. Voluntary return refers to instances when the returnee holds the autonomy of choice of his/her destination. Such voluntary choice of the destination may also happen in the preparation of a removal operation as there may be cases in which the returnee prefers to be removed to another third country rather than to the country of transit or origin.

About half of those eligible for return accept that this option. Voluntary return of irregular migrants to their home countries remains the preferred option whenever possible. Voluntary return and accompanying reintegration measures help consolidate the position of returnees in their home countries and thus deter new irregular migration. They are generally considered to be more cost-effective than forced return and are strongly encouraged by various international statement and is actually the first guideline from the ones issued by the Council of Europe in 200510. Voluntary return can also help overcome the reluctance of certain third countries to cooperate on the return of their nationals. 11

The main safeguards implemented when enforcing the return policy

“The objective of the Return Directive is to ensure that the return of third-country nationals without legal ground to stay in the EU is carried out effectively through fair and transparent procedures that respect the fundamental rights and dignity of the people concerned12”. The rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights13 serve as the primary yardstick for the judicial review of European Union legislation.
While each Member State is implementing the Return Directive, they shall take due account to human right principles, for example of the state of health of the foreseen returnee, the principle of non-refoulement, the right to family life as well as the best interests of the child.

A. The non-refoulement principle

Non-refoulement is a fundamental principle of international law forbidding a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would likely be in danger of persecution based on "race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion14".

The right of a person to return to his country is enshrined in several international human rights core legislation. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to leave any country, even their own, and to return to their own country15". The International Organization for Migration provides in Member States the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme (AVRR), which ensures coordinated, human and cost-effective returns of third-country nationals who cannot or do not wish to stay in a territory of Member States and wish to return voluntarily to their country of origin.

When a Member State authority issues a return decision, it shall provide for an appropriate period for voluntary departure of between seven and thirty days. If a period of voluntary departure is granted, then it is the returnee’s responsibility to make sure to comply with the obligation to return within the set period and there is in principle no need to specify the country of return. Only if coercive measures must be used by Member States, then is it necessary to specify to which third country the person will be removed.

B. The case of vulnerable persons and more specifically children

Children are falling within the wider category of vulnerable persons encompassing minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents with minor children and persons who have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence. They are defined by international conventions mostly based on the age, usually an individual is considered as minor or children until he/she turns 18 years old16. Challenges arise when trying to assess the age of a potential returnee, especially travelling without identity documents. Should this age assessment be wrong, the handling of the children might not be complying with the additional considerations to be considered as per UN Convention on the Rights of the Child17.

Its article 3 defines the best interest of the child as primary consideration “in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies”. Assessing the best interests of a child means to evaluate and balance “all the elements necessary to make a decision in a specific situation for a specific individual child or group of children”. In addition, according to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child children should never be detained for immigration purposes, and detention can never be justified as in a child’s best interests.

While the Return Directive allows Member States to remove or return unaccompanied minors, the respective authorities of Member States must ensure that this individual will be returned to a member of his or her family, a nominated guardian or adequate reception facilities in the State of return.

The mitigated efficiency of the European return policy

11 % fewer non-EU citizens were found to be illegally present in the EU in 2020 compared with 2019. Can we then deduce from this statistic that the European return policy is efficient? There is a great variety of data on effective returns; the rate is extremely high for some countries and very low for others. This makes the impact assessment challenging to undertake. A couple of issues are relevant when aiming to review the efficiency of the European measures applicable.

A. The little amount of return decision being effectively enforced

The process of assessing the individual case of a migrant, issuing a return decision if applicable and actually arranging for the enforcement of such decision is a very lengthy and heavy administrative process. Every year, around 500,000 foreign nationals are ordered to leave the EU because they have entered, or they are staying irregularly. However, only around 30% of them return to their home country or to the country from which they travelled to the EU18.

B. The loophole of the Article 2(2)a of the Return Directive

Another loophole is the possibility for a Member State to decide whether to apply the Directive to border cases, the standards by which the persons involved are handled ought not to be lowered, special regard to matters like health and vulnerability must be handled with due care. This option is provided by the (Article 2(2)(a)) of the Return Directive where border cases cover two hypotheses, on the one hand the case of a third country national subject to a refusal of entry and, on the other hand, the case of a third country national being caught crossing illegally the border of a Member States without having obtained the right to stay in its territory. However, thanks to the non-refoulement principle, a safeguard still exists even in cases where Member States are making use of the exception contained in the article 2(2)a of the Return Directive. Indeed, the non-refoulement is absolute and must not be restricted under any circumstances, even if foreigners are a threat to public order19. Even if such persons may not be awarded refugee or subsidiary protection status, they still cannot be returned to a place at which they may be tortured or killed based on the non-refoulement principle.

While the Directive upholds the rights of the individual who is a beneficiary of the non-refoulement act, it endangers that of the members of that immediate community in the Member State. Not much can be done however as returning the ‘fugitive’ would be an act of depriving him/her to their right to safety. However, criminal law and extradition cases legislative measures fill in the gap. It is for instance the clause that permits Member States to penalise returnees even for offenses committed in other Member States upsets the “more favourable for the returnee” notion.

C. The controversial compatibility of the European return policy with the international law

The question whether statutory provisions of EU legislation are to be interpreted in line with international human rights law. In the case of the Asylum Qualification Directive, the European Court of Justice has decided that this was not the case20. As Mr Hailbronner and Mr. Thym pointed out “’this autonomy of subsidiary protection under EU law has a twofold implication: it indicates, firstly, that EU legislation can provide for international protection in situations below the threshold of human rights obligation. Secondly, the opposite scenario could also arise, in theory at least, if EU legislation does not extend the concept of subsidiary protection to situations covered by human rights law. Mandatory respect for human rights can be ensured, in the second scenario, based on humanitarian protection rules in domestic immigration and asylum laws beyond the confines of EU legislation21”. Therefore, this complementarity can be seen as beneficial for the migrants when their situation is assessed by Member States.

Regarding the administrative detention for the purpose of removal, it was possible to read some criticism on the implementation of the European return policy such as the following statement “although the Return Directive stipulates that detention should be a measure of last resort, in practice, very few viable alternatives to detention have been explored by the European Union and its Member States and administrative detention for migration purposes is currently applied systematically across the European Union.” 22 Criticism for similar reasons aroused from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 23 and several organisations such as Migreurop24 or Statewatch25.

D. The involvement of third countries in the return process by means of readmission agreements

When evaluating the impact of the use of readmissions agreements26 in 2011, the European Commission concluded to a mixed efficiency. This is mostly since some Member States opts for the use of bilateral agreements instead of the ones negotiated at European level. As the Commission highlighted it its evaluation, this approach “inconsistent application of EURAs undermines greatly the credibility of the EU Readmission Policy towards the third countries, which are expected to apply the EURA correctly. More seriously, human rights and international protection guarantees in EURAs may be ineffective if MS do not return irregular migrants under EURAs27”. Another key aspect for improvement is the proposal to set up a post return monitoring mechanism to allow European Union to have a clear picture of what is happening to third country nationals once they are returned following the use of a readmission agreement. This would permits the policy makers to better tailor the content of existing and future readmission agreements.


Based on the brief overview provided above, I would like to draw few conclusions.

First, a clear wish to end the disproportionate division of responsibilities in the European migration system has been greatly implemented. Indeed, over the years the legislation adopted by the European Union has been developed towards enhanced solidarity and harmonisation when dealing with immigration. The Treaty of Lisbon, ratified in 2009, added new jurisprudence on illegal migration, making it clear that the European Union shares competence with all Members States regarding the number of migrants allowed to enter, legally and illegally. It also gave the Court of Justice full jurisdiction in the field of immigration and asylum. Even if it cannot be said that the European policy makers fully achieved to build a fully harmonised approach toward illegal migration, the series of actions undertaken over the past two decades show a real progress and laid the foundation of a holistic European approach on this matter.

While the Return Directive spells expulsion, its work is that of expanding the pathway into Europe and inclusion through rights. It promotes safety for the migrants and places them far from the hands of smugglers as they understand that upon being apprehended, they will face the hand of return, taking them straight back to the ugly situation in their country of origin. By ensuring that all migrants enter the country via legal means, the European legislation on migration and return aim at ensuring that their stay is guaranteed, and it gives the Member State in question the exact number of migrants within their borders, making drafting inclusion policies much simpler. It logically makes economic sense to project a budget that includes foreigners when the government knows what it is faced with, from the ages of the migrants, the gender, religious status, social, ethnic background which, among other factors, determine the kind of assistance required.

The question of the implementation of the coercive measures remains a source of criticism as the practice has shown to be different within the Member States. This can be partially explained by the use of directives instead of regulation that would have left almost no room for manoeuvre for the Member States. However, using such tool would have been perceived as an attack towards sovereignty due to the delicate matter of migration control.

Human rights, streaming both from international legal and European order, can be seen as one of the main tools to ensure harmonised safeguards when dealing with the returning process. Another layer of harmonisation was added by the European Court of Justice when clarifying the interpretations of the Return Directive through a series of cases that have been impacting the implementation of this legislation in the Member States, as pointed out by the European Parliamentary Research Service in its assessment report28. However, as outlined by the European Ombudsman in 2014 “by their very nature, forced return operations have the potential to involve serious violations of fundamental rights29”. Therefore, Member States and European institutions must always remain cautious and keep striving for ensuring additional safeguard in the whole return process. Another great tool is the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, adopted in 2011, established general guidelines on EU’s relations with third countries in the field of migration. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the EU’s cooperation with Sahel’s G5 (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger), or the memorandum of understating between Italy and Libya.

However, there is still a big room for improvements when looking at the existing European legislation on return. As suggested by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), “independent information, counselling and support should be provided to potential returnees and their families, examining all options including other means of regularisation in the host country as well as helping them to prepare for return30”.

JUDr. Denisa Szajkóová, PhD.
PhDr. Peter Senko, MBA


This essay is based on the following sources:

  • Primary and Secondary European law
  • Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

    Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, available under

    Migration and Asylum Package latest update from 23 September 2020 Migration and Asylum Package: New Pact on Migration and Asylum documents adopted on 23 September 2020 | European Commission (

    Regulation (EU) 2016/1953 on the establishment of a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals

    2012 C 326/02, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

  • Soft European law
  • Code of Conduct for joint return operations coordinated by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (7 October 2013)

    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council - The EU strategy on voluntary return and reintegration - {SWD(2021) 121 final}

    COM (215)453 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and Council, EU Action Plan on Return (2015)

    Commission Recommendation EU 2017/2338, The EU strategy on voluntary return and reintegration of 16 November 2017 establishing a common ‘Return Handbook’ to be used by Member States' competent authorities when carrying out return-related tasks, (19 December 2017)

    The Return Directive 2008/115/EC, European Implementation Assessment, EPRS (June 2020), accessible under EPRS_STU(2020)642840_EN.pdf (

  • International legislation and soft law
  • 20 Guidelines on forced return adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of
    Ministers (May 2005)

    Rec (2006)2 Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the European Prison Rules (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 11 January 2006 at the 952nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations 2015), accessible under udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf (

    European Convention on Human Rights (latest version of 2013) accessible under European Convention on Human Rights (

  • Essays and papers
  • Liberalism; A Political Philosophy by Ronald Chau, (26 November 2009), accessible under Microsoft Word - Mannkal_Report1.doc

    Legal Framework for EU Asylum Policy published in Kay Hailbronner and Daniel Thym (eds.): EU Immigration and Asylum Law. Commentary, 2nd edition (C.H. Beck/Hart/Nomos, 2016), pp. 1023-1053.

    EU’s Migration Policies and the Current Refugee Crisis, by Giulia Anderson (November 23, 2021) accessible under EU’s Migration Policies and the Current Refugee Crisis - Washington Kurdish Institute (

    The EU Returns Directive - a critical overview of the gap between law and practice, (13 May 2015) accessible under The EU Returns Directive – a critical overview of the gap between law and practice – International Detention Coalition (

    Voluntary Departure and Return: Between a rock and a hard place, ECRE (2018), accessible under Policy-Note-13.pdf (

    Position Paper on the EU Return Directive, PICUM (2015)

    The new design of the EU’s return system under the Pact on Asylum and Migration, by Madalina Moraru (14 January 2021). Accessible under The new design of the EU’s return system under the Pact on Asylum and Migration – EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy (

    EU Immigration and Asylum Law, Kay Hailbronner and Daniel Thym (2016), accessible under HAILBRONNER-THYM-legal-framework-asylum.pdf (

    Position on the Proposal for a Directive on Common Standards and Procedures in Member States for Returning Illegally Staying Third-Country Nationals, UNCHR, (2008), accessible under UNHCR position on the Proposal for a Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally sta

    'No to the Outrageous Directive!'', Migreurop and others (2007) accessible under eu-returns-ngo-compilation.pdf (

    The Returns Directive, by Peers, S., Statewatch (2008) accessible under Microsoft Word - swatch-returns-june20081.doc (

  • Open sources
  • Human rights library, Human Rights Library- University of Minnesota (

    Compiled minutes of Contact Group Return Directive (document MIGRAPOL CCReturn 51)

    Immigration Policy, Fact Sheets on the European Union, Marion Schmid-Drüner (September 2021), accessible under Immigration policy (

    Return and readmission, European Commission factsheet. Accessible under Return and readmission ( (last seen on 02/04/2022)

    Evaluation of EU Readmission Agreements, COM(2011) 76, European Commission (2011) accessible under EUR-Lex - 52011DC0076 - EN - EUR-Lex (

    1Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)
    2Immigration Policy, Fact Sheets on the European Union, Marion Schmid-Drüner (September 2021)
    3Regulation (EU) 2016/1953 on the establishment of a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals
    4For instance in September 2017 the European Parliament has published its updated Return Handbook, providing guidance relating to the performance of duties of national authorities competent for carrying out return-related tasks.
    5Foreword of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations 2015)
    6Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)
    7Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/2338 of 16 November 2017 establishing a common ‘Return Handbook’ to be used by Member States' competent authorities when carrying out return-related tasks
    8Enforcement of immigration legislation statistics, Eurostatistic (data extracted in June 2021)
    9Position Paper on the EU Return Directive, PICUM (2015)
    10Twenty Guidelines on Forced return, Council of Europe
    11COM (215)453 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and Council, EU Action Plan on Return (2015)
    12The Return Directive 2008/115/EC, European Implementation Assessment, EPRS (June 2020)
    132012 C 326/02, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
    14The Refugee Convention (1951)
    15Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
    16Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nation (1989)
    17Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nation (1989)
    18Return and readmission, European Commission factsheet
    19Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/2338 of 16 November 2017 establishing a common ‘Return Handbook’ to be used by Member States' competent authorities when carrying out return-related tasks, page 17
    20Storey, Directive 2011/95/EU, Article 15 MN 12 14
    21EU Immigration and Asylum Law, Kay Hailbronner and Daniel Thym (2016), page 1035
    22Position Paper on the EU Return Directive, PICUM (2015)
    23UNHCR Position on the Proposal for a Directive on Common Standards and Procedures in Member States for Returning Illegally Staying Third-Country Nationals
    24'No to the Outrageous Directive!'', Migreurop and others (2007)
    25Statewatch Analysis: The Returns Directive, by Peers, S., Statewatch (2008)
    26Evaluation of EU Readmission Agreements, COM(2011) 76
    27Ibid. page 4
    28The Return Directive 2008/115/EC, European Implementation Assessment (2020)
    29Declaration of European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly in on 22 October 2014
    30Voluntary Departure and Return: Between a rock and a hard place, ECRE (2018), page 4