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Cyprus is one of the ‘success stories’ when it comes to stepping up on returns, EU Commissioner Johansson says

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Cyprus is one of the success stories when it comes to stepping up on returns, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said on Tuesday during a press readout in Strasbourg on the presentation by the Commission of a strategic framework for European integrated border management for five years.

During the briefing, the Vice-President of the European Commission for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas and Johansson explained what this strategy entails, but also a a Recommendation to Member States on the mutual recognition of return decisions and expedited returns.

Responding to a question by CNA about returns, Johansson, said that, Cyprus, was “one of the success stories when it comes to stepping up on returns.”  She said that, when she visited Cyprus around two years ago, she also discussed with the Government returns, noting that, Cyprus was performing “quite badly on returns”. “We decided to start working together on that, and the Commission stepped in with the support and advice and in training on how to do this, and now Cyprus is one of the most successful when it comes to returns”, the Commissioner said, adding that, “it could have been even better, but I think it’s remarkable what a journey Cyprus has done” in two years’ time.

The Commissioner, who, earlier, in her speech, urged all EU states to be proactive and utilise the services of FRONTEX for returns of people who are not deemed eligible for international protection, said that this means,  improving the return rates was “doable”.

Earlier, Schinas, said that, strong external borders are an essential part of the bloc’s comprehensive approach to migration and asylum, ‘and the cornerstone of our Security Union”.

“With today’s first-ever multiannual European Integrated Border Management Strategy, we make sure that all Member States’ and Frontex activities – from border surveillance to anti-smuggling to returns – are guided by the same set of common principles and produce results on the ground”, he noted. He added, that, together with the Commission’s recommendations for improving the efficiency and mutual recognition of return decisions, “we are creating much more than an operational framework. We are building step-by-step a common EU culture of migration management”.

Johansson also noted that, these proposals are about continuing to develop migration and asylum management that is fully functioning. The European Integrated Border Management Strategy and the Recommendation on mutual recognition of returns decisions and expediting returns will help achieve that functionality, she added.

“Using inter-agency and technological tools allows us to manage our shared external border and to track and expedite returns decisions more accurately”, the Commissioner said. This, she added, will give more credibility on returns rates. “That way we can build trust to deliver on all aspects of migration management, including sustainable legal pathways”, she said.

With this Communication, the Commission sets out the first-ever multiannual strategic policy cycle on European integrated border management for the next five years, a press release by the Commission said. It also said that, with today’s Recommendation, the Commission provides guidance on the implementation of the mutual recognition of return decisions closing a loophole in the return acquis. It also updates previous guidance provided by the Commission in 2017 on returns and supports Member States in facilitating and accelerating returns.

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