Bilateral Readmission Agreements

The Swiss policy of signing readmission agreements with countries of origin or transit is in line with EU and its Member States` policies that enter into readmission agreements or incorporate return clauses into association and cooperation agreements with many countries of origin and transit, in order to more effectively manage irregular migration. There are also other agreements and memorandums of understanding on readmission. Finland and Afghanistan signed a joint declaration on voluntary return in October 2016. Finland is also negotiating readmission memorandums of understanding with Iraq and Somalia. So far, the EU has concluded readmission agreements with the following states and autonomous regions: however, in current international relations, readmission cooperation is more than an “absolute duty” or a “simple administrative tool”. As noted above, circumstances change over time and uncertainty could significantly disrupt the delicate balance between the costs and benefits of bilateral readmission cooperation. These atypical agreements have responded to a number of factors. First, they tend to reduce the cost of withdrawing or non-compliance with the agreement because it is easy to renegotiate them to deal with new contingencies. Unlike standard readmission agreements, they do not require a lengthy ratification process during renegotiation. Second, they reduce the visibility of readmission cooperation by placing it within a broader framework of interaction. This is particularly important for emigration countries in the southern Mediterranean and Africa, where readmission cooperation is politically unpopular and governments are reluctant to make it public. In these circumstances, the governments of the countries of emigration would be more supportive of cooperation under readmission agreements, while being able to publicly abhor the application of standard readmission agreements.

Third, they enable flexible and achievable solutions that will address the need for readmission cooperation. The agenda remains unchanged, but the functioning of readmission cooperation has taken precedence over its formalization. Fourth, non-standardized readmission agreements are inherently difficult to identify and monitor because they are not necessarily published in official bulletins.