Return Sponsorships in the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum: High Stakes, Low Gains
Sundberg Diez, O., Trauner, F., & De Somer, M. (2021). Return Sponsorships in the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum: High Stakes, Low Gains, European Journal of Migration and Law, 23(3), 219-244. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/15718166-12340101
The concept of ‘return sponsorships’ is central to the European Commission’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum, and its ambition to deliver a “fresh start on migration”. Enabling a system of mandatory yet flexible solidarity, the concept is designed to overcome the opposing viewpoints that have long marked political discussions over responsibility-sharing within Europe. This article critically considers whether return sponsorships can work in practice. It identifies three challenges. First, the proposal’s envisioned solidarity measures lack predictability and tangibility. Second, return sponsorships will create new vulnerabilities for those issued return orders. Third, the mechanism is informed by the improbable assumption that more conditionalities vis-à-vis third countries will substantially increase the EU’s return rate. Overall, the Commission is taking a considerable risk. The return sponsorship concept will likely prolong the polarised discussions among Member States and provide only modest support to countries at the EU’s external border.