‘The strategic country approach to migration: between ambition and reality’

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The Dutch government aims to enhance the effectiveness of return policy by improving the cooperation of countries of origin in the forced return of their nationals. The problem is most common in the case  of undocumented or insufficiently documented failed asylum seekers and other persons residing illegally in the Netherlands who have the nationality of the country of origin and who do not leave independently, with or without assistance.

On the basis of its research the Committee concludes as follows.

  • The attempts to involve ministries other than Security and Justice and Foreign Affairs in return policy have not led to concrete results.
  • Whenever an evaluation takes place between return policy and other Dutch interests, the outcome is usually not in favour of return policy. Though good reasons may underlie these choices, the ACVZ notes that there is a discrepancy here between the lip service paid to return in the political debate and the importance it is given in practice.
  • Instruments falling under the policy of Security and Justice and Foreign Affairs have sometimes produced results. Also international efforts have produced some results.
  • The Netherlands needs the scale of the EU in relation to certain countries in order to achieve the desired results.

On the basis of its conclusions, the Committee has arrived at the following

recommendations. Invest in developing a coherent and integrated migration policy which, in addition to return and efforts to combat irregular migration, addresses highly skilled, labour and student migration and the internationalisation of migrants’ social insurance rights. If forced return cannot be achieved in the case of a particular country at a particular time, reduce operational cooperation with the country in question to a minimum level. At the same time, continue to invest in diplomatic contacts through members of government and high-ranking officials, keep the dialogue going at this level and try if possible to step it up. Invest in the long-term relationship with countries of origin, avoid explicit negative incentives as much as possible, and continue to work towards the promotion of forced or independent return in the EU framework.