The strategy sets out practical measures to strengthen the legal and operational framework for voluntary returns from Europe and transit countries, improve the quality of return and reintegration programs, establish better links with development initiatives, and strengthen cooperation with partner countries.
Its new tools include the creation of "return coordinators" and an enhanced mandate for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), which now becomes the new European Return Agency, on top of its current role of border management.
The strategy is "an important piece of the puzzle" when it comes to migration and asylum in the EU, said the EC Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.
This is what happens when Italy, Malta & Frontex wash their hands of responsibility for saving migrants & leave it to the whims of the Libyan "coastguard". 130 people waited 2 days to be saved but nobody came for them. (Photos: Flavio Gasperini/Sos Mediterranee) pic.twitter.com/f3vUf9k3s5
So far, only a third of people with no right to stay in the EU return to their country of origin, and among those who do, fewer than 30 percent do so voluntarily, said the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.
When it takes a long time to hear the final decision, it is more difficult for people to willingly return to their country of origin, according to Johansson.
"Voluntary returns are always the better option: they put the individual at the core, they are more effective and less costly," she said.