Main Debate

  • Is there adequate protection for rejected asylum-seekers in order to ensure that return policies do not infringe the non-refoulement principle?

Main Point

  • Use of protection mechanisms to delay expulsion or removal

EU Documents

  1. Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common standards and procedures in member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, 2008/EC/115, OJ L 348/98, 16 December 2008.
  2. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, ‘Study on the links between legal and illegal migration’’, COM (2004) 412, 4 June 2004.
  3. Council of Europe, Council Directive (EC) 2003/110 on assistance in cases of transit for the purposes of removal by air, OJ L 321/26, 25 November 2003.
  4. Commission of the European Communities, 'Green Paper on a Com munity Return Policy on Illegal Residents’, COM (2002) 175, 10 April 2002.
  5. Commission of the European Communities, Commission communication on a Community return policy on illegal residents’, COM (2002) 175, 10 April 2002.
  6. Commission of the European Communities, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, in view of the European Council of Thessaloniki on the development of a common policy on illegal immigration, smuggling and trafficking of human beings external borders and the return of illegal residents’, COM (2003) 323, 3 June 2000.

UNHCR Documents

  1. UNHCR, Executive Committee, Conclusion No. 96 (LIV), ‘The Return of persons found not to be in need of international protection’, 2003.
  2. UNHCR, ‘Protection Policy Paper: The return of persons found not to be in need of international protection to their countries of origin: UNHCR's role’, November 2010.
  3. UNHCR, ‘UNHCR Position on the Proposal for a Directive on Common Standards and Procedures in Member States for Returning Illegally Staying Third-Country Nationals’, 16 June 2008.
  4. UNHCR, ‘UNHCR Observations on the European Commission's Proposal for a Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, (COM(2005) 391 final)’, 16 December 2005.
  5. UNHCR, ‘Global Consultations on International Protection/Regional Meetings: Conclusions’, (Regional Meeting in Budapest, 6-7 June 2001), EC/GC/01/14,15 June 2001.
  6. Morris, H. & Salomons, M. Difficult decisions: A review of UNHCR's engagement with Assisted Voluntary Return programmes, July 2013, PDES/2013/11. [Part of the Policy Development and Evaluation Service's UNHCR Evaluation Reports Series].



  1. C. Rodier, ‘Analysis of the External Dimension of the EU’s Asylum and Immigration Policies - Summary and Recommendations for the European Parliament', DGExPo/B/PolDep/ETUDE/2006_11, PE 374.366, 6 August 2006.
  2. Meijers Committee, Note on the Returns Directive, CM08010 VIII, 27 May 2008.
  3. D. Acosta, ’The Returns Directive: Possible Limits and Interpretation’, in: K. Zwaan (ed.), The Returns Directive: Central Themes, Problem Issues, and Implementation in Selected Member States (Wolf Legal Publishers, 2011), pp. 7-24.


  1. R. Raffaelli, ‘Criminalizing Irregular Immigration and the Returns Directive: An Analysis of the El Dridi Case’, European Journal of Migration and Law, vol. 13, no. 4 (2011), pp. 467-489.
  2. D. Acosta, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in EU Migration Law: Is the European Parliament becoming Bad and Ugly? (The Adoption of Directive 2008/15: The Returns Directive)’, European Journal of Migration and Law, vol. 11 (2009), pp. 19–39.
  3. A. Baldaccini, ‘The Return and Removal of Irregular Migrants under EU law: An Analysis of the Returns Directive’, European Journal of Migration and Law, vol. 11, no. 1 (2009), pp. 1–17.
  4. R. Cholewinski, ‘European Union Policy on Irregular Migration: Human Rights Lost?’, in B. Bogusz, R. Cholewinski, A. Cygan and E. Szyszczak (eds), Irregular Migration and Human Rights: Theoretical, European and International Perspectives (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004).
  5. Consortium of 13 NGOs, including Cimade, Amnesty International, EU, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, Caritas Europa, Human Rights Watch and others, ‘Common Principles on Removal of Irregular Migrants and Rejected Asylum Seekers’, August 2005.
  6. ECRE, ‘Comments from the European Council on Refugees and Exiles on the Commission Green Paper on a Community Return Policy on Illegal Residents’ (Brussels, 10 April 2002, COM (2002) 175 final), 2 August 2002.
  7. Peers. S. (9 June 2008). Analysis on the Returns Directive. University of Sussex, Human Rights Centre.

Editor’s Note

Note that the practical relevance of these policies for rejected asylum-seekers and persons whose refugee status or Subsidiary Protection/Temporary Protection status has ceased.