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Listeners say the European Union’s program for deporting migrants is not working well

BRUSSELS – European Union auditors said on Monday that the program to deport migrants from the bloc of 27 countries was not working well, but they warned that any attempt to force countries to take back their citizens through coercion could be counterproductive.

But most EU countries agree that the focus should be on preventing migrants from entering in the first place by entering into agreements with countries of origin or transit, and on deporting them. more of those who are not allowed to stay.

In a new report, the European Court of Auditors said that of around 500,000 people who have been ordered to leave the EU since 2008, only 29% have ultimately been deported. But only 19% – just one in five – who entered outside mainland Europe were returned.

Chief Auditor Leo Brincat told reporters that “effective” deportations are “an essential part of a comprehensive migration policy”. But he said that “the current EU return system suffers greatly from inefficiencies which lead to the opposite of the intended effect”.

The report notes that the EU is divided on whether to use coercive measures such as the suspension of development aid or sanctions or to employ political and economic incentives to encourage other countries to cooperate on the management of migrants.

In particular, the committee warned that it would use its visa policy to encourage countries to take back their citizens. In July, after scores of Iraqi migrants crossed Belarus on their way to EU member Lithuania, the committee threatened to impose visa restrictions on Iraqi diplomats and officials.

The decision aimed to “stimulate Iraq to improve its cooperation” by accepting the return of its citizens who have been refused entry into Europe, according to the committee. Flights from Iraq to the Belarusian capital of Minsk – once four a week – came to a screeching halt.

But Brincat said that “the bottom line, if you ask me, is that you can’t force cooperation by threatening a country to fall into place. It has to be a give and take, and there has to be one important element between the two parties: the element of trust. “

Brincat urged the commission to quickly develop incentives to encourage outside countries to take back their populations, but said visa restrictions “will continue to be used repeatedly.”

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Follow all of AP’s stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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