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Recasting the Return Directive [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Maria Diaz Crego (3rd edition, updated on 11/03/2021),


© Jonathan Stutz / Fotolia

The Return Directive is the main piece of EU (European Union) legislation governing the procedures and criteria to be applied by Member States when returning irregularly staying third-country nationals, and a cornerstone of EU return policy. Taking into account the decrease in the EU return rate (from 45.8 % in 2016 to 28,9 % in 2019) and following European Council and Council calls to review the 2008 legal text to enhance the effectiveness of EU return policy, in September 2018 the Commission proposed a targeted recast of the directive aiming to ‘reduce the length of return procedures, secure a better link between asylum and return procedures, and ensure a more effective use of measures to prevent absconding’.

In the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, whereas the Council reached a partial general approach on the proposal, the European Parliament did not reach a position. A draft report was presented to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) but was not adopted. After the 2019 elections, Parliament decided to resume work on the proposal. A new draft report was published on 21 February 2020, but it was not presented in the LIBE committee until 10 September 2020 on account of delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline for tabling amendments expired on 23 September 2020 and the LIBE committee is currently considering the 754 amendments tabled.


Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (recast)
Committee responsible: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) COM(2018) 634 of 12.9.2018
Rapporteur: Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA, The Netherlands) 2018/0329(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs: Nadine Morano (EPP, France)
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, France)
Sophia in ‘t Veld (Renew, The Netherlands)
Nicolas Bay (ID, France)
Beata Kempa (ECR, Poland)
Anne-Sophie Pelletier (The Left, France)
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Committee vote on draft report
EU Legislation in progress timeline


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