MEPs call for better protection of migrants from human rights violations

  • Commission should sign readmission agreements with third countries, replacing informal agreements 
  • Overview of EU funds used to finance migration cooperation needed 
  • Call for an independent and accessible complaints mechanism 

Parliament criticises the European Commission and some EU countries for overusing informal agreements on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted a report by 358 votes in favour, 309 against, with 26 abstentions providing recommendations on human rights protection in the framework of the EU’s external asylum and migration policy.

The text notes that, since 2016, the EU and some member states have made many informal bilateral agreements and arrangements with third countries on strengthening their border control and management capacities, fighting human trafficking and on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.

It also highlights several worrying trends and the practical human rights implications stemming from such informal arrangements, which are concluded without due democratic scrutiny and parliamentary oversight and are not subject to judicial scrutiny.

Therefore, MEPs urge the European Commission to negotiate and sign formal readmission agreements with third countries. They note the absence of adequate operational reporting, monitoring, evaluation and accountability mechanisms to track individual cases and respond to potential violations, as well as the lack of effective judicial remedies for persons whose rights have been allegedly violated. The rights of asylum seekers are inherently dependent on having human rights violations assessed by a court, MEPs point out.

Overview of EU funds needed

A complete, public overview of EU funding to third countries to facilitate cooperation on migration issues remains unavailable, the report notes. MEPs call on the European Commission to ensure full transparency, including by establishing such an overview.

They also ask for detailed information on any other support measures provided by EU agencies such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in order to ensure that the European Parliament can efficiently scrutinise how the EU budget is spent.


“Cooperation with third countries does not absolve the EU of meeting its human rights obligations towards migrants and refugees. These obligations must be fulfilled through better monitoring, more transparency on the use of EU funds and enhanced democratic oversight from the European Parliament. In addition, we must ensure access to justice for migrants and refugees whose rights may be affected by the EU’s cooperation with third countries. This is the only way to ensure that our external migration policy complies with international law”, said rapporteur Tineke Strik (The Greens/EFA, Netherlands) after the vote.