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Returns diplomacy: levers and tools

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Over the past two years, 2.5 million first-time asylum seekers applied for protection in the EU. With the EU-wide asylum-recognition rate currently standing at 60%, hundreds of thousands of people will be required to return home again. The chances of them actually going back are slim: in 2016, 42% of asylum-seekers who received an instruction to leave stayed in Europe, amounting to at least 130,000 people. And even this paints too rosy a picture: the EU-wide success rate is dragged up by member states which receive large numbers of asylum claims from the Western Balkans – for the EU’s largest member state, Germany, this group constitutes around 90% of all successful returns.

The simple truth is that most EU member states, for a number of historical reasons, have no returns relationships with major African, Middle-Eastern and Asian source countries.