Assisted Voluntary Return & Reintegration Policies and Programmes in Four EU Countries: France, Germany, Italy and Spain
In response to the presence of a significant number of non-EU nationals illegally residing within their borders, EU countries implement forced return policies which, besides being particularly burdensome from both a financial and organisational point of view, can stoke the fires of social and diplomatic tensions as well as, at times, proving problematic in terms of a lack of the appropriate full respect for fundamental human rights. For these reasons, the EU institutions have repeatedly stated that voluntary returns are always to be preferred to forced ones. One measure that can concretely encourage voluntary returns is that of Assisted Voluntary Return programmes, which can be accompanied by initiatives to support the socio-economic reintegration of citizens repatriated to their country of origin. This article presents and compares the policies and procedures for Assisted Voluntary Return and reintegration adopted by the four largest EU countries: France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The article also offers some remarks on the four cases studied as a whole, with a particular focus on the elements that seem to provide the most significant contribution to the success of these policies.