Europe is all too often paralysed from sending back irregular migrants because of the lack of any form of readmission agreement with the countries of origin of these irregular migrants.
If irregular migration is to be tackled, effective readmission agreements need to be negotiated and implemented. Without these agreements, irregular migrants will continue to arrive and remain in Europe without any possibility to send them back to their countries of origin.
These readmission agreements, signed either with countries of origin or with transit countries, however, raise a number of human rights concerns, which must not be overridden by migration management concerns. This is why it is essential that the Council of Europe looks carefully at these agreements from both a migration management and human rights angle.
In the past, the majority of bilateral readmission agreements have been signed between European states. New migration patterns, however, mean that these readmission agreements need to be signed with many countries outside of Europe and in particular with a growing number of countries in Africa and Asia.
More recently, readmission agreements became part of the broader migration strategy of the European Union. The European Commission now has a mandate to negotiate Community readmission agreements with neighbouring countries and countries of origin further a field. The Community readmission agreements have been negotiated with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In September 2007 four readmission agreements were signed between the European Community and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
Given the growing number of readmission agreements, it is necessary to examine their strengths and weaknesses, in order to increase the effectiveness of such mechanisms and to ensure their compatibility with human rights standards. It is also necessary to look at where readmission agreements are still required as a priority.
Bilateral readmission agreements and the European Community readmission agreements have the potential to improve the effectiveness of return procedures through:
However, the content and implementation of such readmission agreements may also give rise to a number of concerns. These include:
In view of the above, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should recommend: