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Finding Agreement in Return

Project description

A closer look at migrant return and readmission policies

Europe is home to countless undocumented migrants who are destined for a life in limbo. They are non-EU nationals who have entered the EU without a visa or have overstayed their visa. In this context, the EU-funded FAiR project will explore ways to increase EU return migration governance. Bringing together stakeholders in non-EU countries (Georgia, Iraq, Niger, Nigeria, Turkey) and EU Member States (Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Switzerland), FAiR will carry out a survey on public support for alternatives to return policies and improved guidelines for the human rights monitoring of enforced return. The project’s findings regarding return and readmission policies will be assessed by an expert group of academics, policy researchers, and governmental and migrant advocacy organisations.


A host of irregular migrants currently live in de facto “limbo” conditions in Europe, with significant economic and human costs. According to registrations, less than 20% of all non-European nationals receiving an order to leave, voluntarily return to a third country or are deported. Those not returning receive limited opportunities to regularize their stay, since states fear that regularization attracts irregular migration, and will not be supported by voters. FAiR promises to bolster EU return migration governance by addressing the legitimacy deficits that plague policies on return and alternatives to return. FAiR complements dominant rational choice perspectives by systematically assessing the importance of norms, frames and shared meanings for intergovernmental cooperation on return. Together with stakeholders in EU+ and non-EU+ countries, FAiR pushes quantitative and qualitative research boundaries in the field, focusing on 5 non-EU+ (Georgia, Iraq, Niger, Nigeria, Turkey) and 5 EU+ states (Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Switzerland). Specific contributions of FAiR include: econometric models to reduce measurement bias in Eurostat return data; better measurements of Europe’s return policies through a Migration Return Policy Index (MIREX); causal inference analysis for all EU+ countries on the effects of policy and non-policy drivers of enforced return; a large survey experiment in 10 EU+ countries on public support for alternatives to return policies; improved guidelines for the human rights monitoring of enforced return; and, a negotiation and implementation game that will help international actors to reach agreement on return and readmission. FAiR offers multidisciplinary expertise and comprises a mix of academic, policy research, governmental and irregular migrant advocacy organisations, spanning Europe, Africa and the Middle East. FAiR targets objectives 1, 17, 21 and 23 of the Global Migration Pact, and 10.7 16.8 17.9 17.16 and 17.18 of the SDGs.


Net EU contribution
€ 980 705,00
Burgemeester oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Groot-Rijnmond
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (9)

Partners (1)