EU sees rise in deportation rates for non-EU migrants

People protest against the German government's decision to deport migrants who were denied asylum, at Duesseldorf Airport

By Dimitri Rhodes

(Reuters) - A growing proportion of non-European Union citizens ordered to leave EU territory are being returned to countries outside the bloc as part of efforts to rein in irregular migration, data from the EU's statistics office shows.

The deportation success rate reached 29.5% in the first quarter of 2024, up from 21.6% in the same period in 2022, according to data published on Friday by Eurostat.

Over the same period, the number of deportation orders issued increased by around 15% while deportations following orders issued increased by around 58%.

"With the new Return Roadmap, action is underway to support member states in speeding up returns and facilitating reintegration," a European Commission spokesperson said.

"More frequent use of mutual recognition of return decisions is also helping to accelerate the process," the spokesperson said, referring to agreements between EU nations and migrants' countries of origin.

Since 2016, the 27-nation EU has sealed pacts with Mauritania, Tunisia, Turkey and most recently Egypt as it seeks to curb irregular migration, a move criticised by human rights groups for ignoring humanitarian law.

Migration was a top issue in the June 6-9 European Parliament elections, which saw gains for right-wing nationalists, shaping how the bloc will confront future challenges ranging from geopolitics to immigration.

Anti-immigration rhetoric has grown across the EU since more than a million people - mostly Syrian refugees - arrived via the Mediterranean in 2015, catching the bloc unprepared.

Unable to agree how to share the responsibility, EU countries mostly focused on bringing down arrivals.

Of the more than 100,000 non-EU citizens ordered to leave an EU country in the first quarter of 2024, nearly a third were deported, Eurostat said. This included people returned to other EU countries, but 85% of them were sent outside the bloc's borders, up from 77% in the previous quarter.

Among non-EU citizens ordered to leave an EU country, Algerian and Moroccan nationals constituted the largest share at 7% each, followed by Turkish nationals at 6%, and Syrian and Georgian nationals at 5% each.

France deported the highest number of non-EU citizens in the quarter, with 4,205 individuals returned to another country, against 34,190 ordered to leave. Germany followed with 3,950 individuals returned against 15,400 orders issued.

(Reporting by Dimitri Rhodes; Editing by Ros Russell)