EMN Focussed Report 2015; Dissemination of Information on Voluntary Return: how to reach irregular migrants not in contact with the authorities, October 2015

Executive Summary:
The overall aim of a study is to inform Member States and the Commission about the different approaches employed in the EU Member States and Norway to ensure that irregular migrants are informed of options for return, with particular reference to voluntary and assisted voluntary return.
Key Points of the Report are the following:
• Whilst there is limited information to estimate the exact scale of irregular migration in the EU indicators suggests that irregular migration is increasing in many Member States;
• In view of this, the EU and its Member States are keen to develop policies and practices that can increase returns of not having a legal right to stay in the EU base on Return Directive priority of voluntary return over forced return, if it does not undermine the purpose of the return procedure. Various Member States have recently legislated (or plan to legislate) for more effective promotion of voluntary return and that almost all (Member) States have in place rules for the provision of information on voluntary return;
• Several challenges in disseminating information on voluntary return to irregular migrants are common to most Member States, such as: how and where to target irregular migrants when they are not in contact with disseminating actors; language barriers; engaging irregular migrants with those providing information even when the former is unwilling to return and/or is mistrustful of authorities and other actors (both of which prevent migrants from engaging with those providing information); and ensuring that migrants have access to accurate information even where they are more likely to rely primarily on informal sources of information from within their community;
• In half of all (Member) States, state actors maintain a limited role in the dissemination of information, as this task is mainly outsourced to intergovernmental organisations or civil society organisations. This is largely because (Member States report) civil society organisations are more likely to be trusted by migrants than State authorities and they may have better links to diaspora communities, ethnic minorities than State authorities which help them to engage with irregular migrants. This study has also found that non-State providers of information (i.e. those outsourced to implement AVRR programmes) are more likely to provide tailored information on return than State Actors;
• A wide combination of tools (posters, websites, outreach) to disseminate information are used by (Member) States; the tools differ in the extent to which they increase accessibility and the understanding of the message disseminated suggesting that employing a range of tools for information dissemination is advantageous;
• One of the main ways that migrants learn about voluntary return is through speaking with their peers: whilst perhaps well-trusted by the migrant, such information can be inaccurate or biased;
• Around one third of all (Member) States have targeted information campaigns specifically at irregular migrants not in contact with the authorities. They have done this by publicising the return message in mainstream and targeted (e.g. community-specific) media, disseminating information in places frequented by migrants, and building relations with diaspora communities. Several Member States also underline the importance of informing migrants about return before they become irregular migrants / fall out of contact with the authorities;
• In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that some (Member) States have evaluated the promotion of AVRR, there is little robust evidence of the effectiveness of different measures in reaching out to irregular migrants not in contact with the authorities. However, (Member) States have developed some lessons and potential good practices in disseminating information.

This Synthesis Report was prepared on the basis of National Contributions from 25 EMN NCPs (Austria, Belgium, Croatia1, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and Norway) according to a Common Template developed by the EMN and followed by EMN NCPs to ensure, to the extent possible, comparability.

For more information please see:
EMN Synthesis Report for the Focussed Study 2015: Dissemination of Information on Voluntary Return: how to reach irregular migrants not in contact with the authorities, October 2015.

Slovenian National Report: Dissemination of Information on Voluntary Return: how to reach irregular migrants not in contact with the authorities, July 2015.