News Item

Forced return monitoring across the EU – 2023 update

Commercial passenger aircraft in white colour.
Mateusz ©, 2023
Every year, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) updates its overview of national forced return monitoring systems across the EU. The overview for 2022 is now available.

The overview looks at the developments in the 27 EU Member States. It covers staffing, training, reporting and the monitoring of return operations.

FRA notes that Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Spain did not monitor any national forced return operation in 2022.

The overview also points to persistent challenges. These include some countries monitoring very few operations or not covering all steps in the process. In some countries, monitoring is temporary or depends on project funding and stops when the funding dries up.

Independence is another issue. To be effective, an entity that is sufficiently independent from the authority in charge of returns should carry out the monitoring. But this is not always the case.

Another challenge is transparency. Most monitoring bodies publish at least a summary of their observations and recommendations. But several EU countries have not issued recent public reports on the findings of forced return monitoring activities.

Operational issues also pose challenges. These include lack of capacity of national monitors in terms of human resources and funding. Returnees may also lack access to information and interpreters. Despite positive developments, issues concerning the identification of vulnerabilities or the handling of families with children continued to be reported.

For an overview of the pool of forced return monitors operating under the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, see the Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer’s annual report for 2022.

FRA has published these regular updates since 2014.