by Gabriela Baczynska
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – European Union immigration ministers meet in Stockholm on Thursday to discuss visa restrictions and better coordination within the bloc to return to their countries of origin more migrants who do not meet the asylum criteria in Europe.
Three years after EU member states agreed to limit visas granted to countries deemed uncooperative to repatriate their illegal migrants, only The Gambia has been formally punished.
The European Commission has proposed similar measures with regard to Iraq, Senegal and Bangladesh. Two European representatives, however, indicated that cooperation with Dhaka on the return of migrants had since improved.
According to the latest Eurostat data available, however, the percentage of effective removals for the bloc as a whole was only 21% in 2021, a “level which member states consider inconceivably low”, said one of the representatives. Europeans.
The issue of immigration is highly sensitive within the Community bloc, whose member countries would rather discuss measures to speed up deportations, as well as ways to stem illegal immigration upstream, rather than returning to disputes over the distribution of the reception of those who have managed to reach Europe.
A document prepared by the European Commission for the discussions between ministers, seen by Reuters, states that “establishing an effective and common European system for returns is a central pillar of well-functioning and credible migration and asylum systems “.
According to United Nations data, some 160,000 migrants reached Europe via the Mediterranean Sea last year. In addition, nearly 8 million Ukrainian refugees have been received in Europe.
The Stockholm meeting comes two weeks before a summit in Brussels between EU heads of state and government devoted in particular to immigration.
(Report Gabriela Baczynska, with Philip Blenkinsop; French version Jean Terzian)