Research on European return migration policies awarded with 3.6 million euro

Most migrants who receive an ‘order to leave’ in Europe do not demonstrably return to their country of citizenship. At the same time, such migrants also encounter significant difficulties in regularising their stay. An international research consortium led by Prof.Dr. Arjen Leerkes, Erasmus University Rotterdam, is granted 3.6 million euros for the Horizon Europe-funded project “Finding Agreement in Return” (FAiR) for conducting research on Europe’s return policies and alternatives to return policies. The project starts in May 2023 and will last for 3.5 years.

The European Union member states have developed various initiatives to improve cooperation with third countries on the return of irregular migrants. However, most migrants who receive an ‘order to leave’ do not demonstrably return to their country of citizenship. At the same time, such migrants also encounter significant difficulties in regularising their stay. Consequently, a considerable number of non-returnees continue to live in Europe in a vulnerable position. Policymakers often fear that European citizens do not support offering certain alternatives to return to non-returnees, such as issuing work or study permits. Policymakers also fear that such alternatives would attract irregular migration. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support such claims.

Project leader Arjen Leerkes “In this project we will place non-EU actors’ perspectives centre stage. The research will analyse the perceived legitimacy and fairness of the EU return policies, in the eyes of relevant actors in source and transit countries. We will assess how national and local authorities, NGOs, returnees, and diaspora groups interpret and frame Europe’s return policies, focusing on Georgia, Iraq, Niger, Nigeria, and Turkey. The research will also be a forum for non-EU actors to express their voices in EU-dominated return agreements.”

1450 552 Fair Return
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