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EU Immigration Enforcement: Surge in Departures and Challenges in Border Control

In 2023, the landscape of immigration enforcement within the European Union (EU) underwent notable shifts, as reflected in the latest data released by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office. The figures revealed a significant uptick in the number of individuals compelled to return to their home countries following orders to leave EU member states. This increase amounted to a striking 25% surge, with 111,185 people repatriated, compared to 89,000 in the preceding year.


EU Immigration Enforcement: Surge in Departures and Challenges in Border Control

A closer examination of the demographics subject to departure orders unveiled that Georgians, Albanians, and Turks constituted the largest cohort, accounting for a notable 21% of all cases, totaling 23,750 individuals. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of those compelled to leave, approximately 91,465 individuals or 82%, were directed to countries beyond the EU's borders. Concurrently, the issuance of departure orders to non-EU citizens witnessed a 4% rise, reaching a total of 466,350 individuals.


In terms of enforcement across EU member states, Germany, France, and Sweden emerged as the primary authorities issuing departure orders. Collectively, these nations accounted for 8% of the total number of orders issued, with Germany leading the pack at 15,445 individuals, closely followed by France with 12,170 and Sweden with 10,330. Conversely, countries such as Slovenia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and Ireland reported lower numbers of departure orders.


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Beyond departures, Eurostat's data underscored a concerning trend in the prevalence of illegal presence within EU territories. The number of undocumented migrants surged by 13% in 2023, exceeding 1.5 million individuals, compared to the 1.12 million recorded in the previous year. Despite this surge, there was a noteworthy decline in the number of individuals refused entry to the EU, marking a 16% decrease to 118,935 individuals in 2023.


A detailed analysis of refusal rates at external borders revealed stark disparities across member states. Countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Estonia exhibited refusal rates exceeding 70%, signaling heightened vigilance at these entry points. Furthermore, Ireland, Spain, and Germany recorded the highest numbers of refusals at air borders, while France and Italy reported significant refusals at sea borders.


The data also illuminated a consistent trend since 2020, indicating a steady increase in the number of foreigners found to be illegally present in EU countries. Moreover, the number of return decisions issued in 2023 represented the second-highest figure in nearly a decade, underscoring the ongoing challenges and efforts to manage migration and enforce border control within the EU.

By fLEXI tEAM

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