Tens of thousands of migrants head to European nations each year
Tens of thousands of migrants are told to leave EU nation each year with a number being paid cash incentives and benefits to return to their home countries in so-called voluntary return schemes, according to figures from the European Commission,
But the value of the payouts varies between EU nations – leading Brussels bosses to believe migrants will pursue the country with the biggest cash incentives.
Last year the Home Office confirmed migrants trying to enter the UK were being offered £2,000 each to leave as well as a flight home paid at the expense of by British taxpayers.
Hundreds of migrants queuing outside an immigration centre in London
Meanwhile France reportedly offers the same cash benefit but with in-kind payments of £6,000, while Germany can offer up to £5,000.
Now the European Commission is urging EU leaders to agree on a single payment to prevent migrants “shopping around”.
In a memo to the Brussels bloc about “preventing irregular migration and returning irregular migrants”, the officials said: “It is therefore essential for the sake of improving return rates that reintegration packages, and in general practices on incentivising return, are consistent among all Member States.
Dramatic images as 500 migrants jump the border into Spanish enclave of Ceuta Mon, February 20, 2017
Around 500 sub-Saharan African migrants crossed the fenced border surrounding Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco
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African migrants react as they arrive at the CETI, the short-stay immigrant centre, after crossing the border from Morocco to Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta
Irregular migrants are more likely to accept voluntary return packages if they know that the only other alternative is forced return
European Commission memo
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“Irregular migrants are more likely to accept voluntary return packages if they know that the only other alternative is forced return as staying irregularly would not be an option any longer.”
The idea was reportedly well received by EU leaders, but there was no indication whether the scheme will be adopted.
It is also understood that migrants do not always receive the full payments offered.
EU policy states that, wherever possible, voluntary return schemes are preferable to forced return schemes.
France reportedly offers in-kind payments of up to £6,000 to migrants
The term “voluntary return” reportedly does not necessarily mean the person has chosen to leave of their own free will, but only that they have made their own arrangements after being ordered to leave.
The memo comes as Theresa May signed the letter which will officially trigger Article 50 – indicating Britain’s intention to leave the EU.
UK ambassador Sir Tim Barrow, later today, will hand it to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.