Statewatch article: RefNo# 6762
Readmission agreements and EC external migration law
Statewatch News Online, May 2003
The EU's approach to readmission agreements involves insisting that more and more
non-EU countries sign up to broad readmission obligations to the EU with little or nothing in
return. EU policy has been backed up by harsher and harsher rhetoric and threats against
third countries as the EU becomes more and more unilateralist and focused solely on
migration control. These policies are unbalanced, inhumane, and internally contradictory.

Readmission agreements: the policy

Readmission agreements are the standard method of ensuring that persons are expelled
from Member States individually, or from the EU as a whole. There are two ways in which
the EU has become involved with such agreements. First of all, since the entry into force of
the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, the European Community has had the power in its own
name to enter into such agreements. This means, if such treaties are agreed, that it is easier
to expel people from the whole of the Union.

Secondly, even before the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EC inserted clauses into a number of
its association and cooperation agreements since 1995 insisting that the other country
readmit its own citizens when any EU Member State asked, and also agree to negotiate a
further readmission treaty with any Member State that wishes dealing with two further
issues. These issues were the details of the obligation to readmit citizens (or example,
because readmission is often delayed because of disputes as to whether a person is a citizen
of the State asked to readmit them) and a further obligation to readmit persons who are not
citizens of the requested State but who have merely passed through that State on their way
to the EU.

[See full-text: 1995 standard clause]

After 1999, the latter policy was updated. First, there is now an obligation to negotiate a
supplementary treaty with the entire Community, not just individual Member States,
although there is still an obligation to negotiate with individual Member States in the
meantime pending an agreement with the EC as a whole. Secondly, the EU policy is now
that such clauses are mandatory: it will no longer sign any association or cooperation
agreement unless the other side agrees to the standard obligations.

[See full-text: 1999 standard clause]

EC Readmission agreements: the practice

The European Commission has negotiated three readmission agreements on behalf of the
European Community. These are treaties with:

a) Hong Kong, November 2001 [Council doc. 8518/02, 2.5.02, pdf file]

Sri Lanka, May 2002 [Council doc. 7831/1/03, 9.4.03, pdf file]

c) Macao, October 2002 [Commission doc. COM (2003) 151, 31.3.03, pdf file]

Of these, the treaty with Hong Kong was signed by the Council in November 2002, and the
Commission has recently proposed that the Council sign and conclude the other two
agreements. All three treaties will therefore be in force shortly.

The core part of each agreement provides that:

the contracting parties have to take back their own nationals (or, in the case of Hong
Kong and Macao, permanent residents) who have entered or stayed illegally in the
other party.
the parties must also readmit nationals of non-contracting parties or stateless persons
who have illegally entered or stayed on their territory, subject to certain conditions.
the partie

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