Fighting illegal immigration: The Return Directive


Faced with an ever-increasing flow of immigrants towards its borders, the EU has adopted a directive that defines procedures for the return of illegally resident third-country nationals. But the EU initiative received bad publicity in Latin America after being labelled the 'Directive of Shame'.

Horizontal Tabs


The Hague Programme, endorsed by the European Council in November 2004, foresaw the creation of a common immigration and asylum policy for the EU, which had just been enlarged to ten new member countries in January of that year. 

In December 2005, the Commission issued its policy plan on legal migration which defined the roadmap for the Hague Programme. The policy plan listed a series of measures to be adopted by 2009, including: 

  • A horizontal directive introducing a single procedure and permit for migrants seeking to work in the EU. 
  • Four sectoral initiatives for highly skilled workers, seasonal workers, remunerated trainees and intra-corporate transferees. 

While creating a framework for legal access to the European Union, the EU institutions also adopted a directive on procedures for returning illegally resident third-country nationals, first presented in 2005 and approved by the European Parliament on 18 June 2008.