Each year the Member States of the European Union issue around 500,000 return decisions to persons who do not, or no longer, have legal stay. A return decision requires the person to leave the territory of the state issuing the return decision and to go to a country where he/she does have legal stay, usually his/her country of citizenship. If persons do not leave themselves, they risk being returned by force. The implementation of assisted and forced return often requires cooperation by the countries of citizenship of the person receiving the return decision, and thus partially depends on the intergovernmental relations between EU+ (EU Member States plus Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) and non-EU+ countries. The WODC has conducted three interrelated studies on the influence of these relations on return.
this study explores whether or not the Netherlands and Norway can learn from the experiences and strategies of one another by comparing the experiences and strategies of the two countries in relation to enforced return to Afghanistan3, Iran, and Iraq. Such comparisons may lead to useful new insights as different EU+ countries – despite the EU’s attempts at harmonisation – have developed somewhat different approaches to enforced return (cf. Leerkes & Van Houte, 2020). This raises the question of how different EU+ states strive to accomplish enforced return to the same origin states, and with what ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ outcomes (e.g., what rates of enforced return do they achieve, and do states enforce returns within the norms that matter in liberal democracies, including migrants’ fundamental rights and a commitment to accepted principles of sound administration?). This exploratory study was thus guided by two research questions:
What are the experiences of the Netherlands and Norway with regards to enforced return (forced and assisted return) to Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq?
What (inter)governmental strategies have the Netherlands and Norway developed with a view to effecting enforced return to Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq?