Nordic countries announce deal to up repatriation
October 31, 2023 08:15 PM
Nordic migration and justice ministers on Tuesday announced a deal to strengthen efforts for migrants to return to their countries of origin, and to deport illegal residents to third countries.
Denmark has spearheaded harder lines on migrants in the Nordics and stepped up initiatives to discourage immigration and put roadblocks for the acquisition of Danish nationality.
Tuesday's deal followed a two-day meeting with ministers from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Denmark in Copenhagen.
The first of three agreed initiatives was to increase collaboration between migration attaches responsible for deportation.
"The attaches will meet regularly and together strengthen co-operation with third countries in order to better carry out returns to the countries in question and provide reintegration support," Denmark's immigration ministry said in a statement.
The second was to co-operate on joint flights from "a Nordic country to a third country, so that people without legal residence in several of the Nordic countries can depart from one Nordic country to a third country," the statement said, adding it would be done in collaboration with the EU's border surveillance agency Frontex.
Thirdly, efforts would be taken to increase support for "stranded irregular migrants in North Africa" -- including "assisted voluntary return to their own countries."
Harder lines on migration have been adopted across much of the Nordic region in recent years.
Danish immigration and integration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek was quoted saying the countries had "a common interest in ensuring that foreigners without legal residence are sent home."
"We must prevent them from travelling across our countries and slipping under the radar of the authorities," he said.
Denmark's Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has been an advocate of a "zero refugees" objective in the Scandinavian country since she came to power in 2019.
Denmark was also the first country in Europe to withdraw the residence permits of Syrian refugees from the Damascus region in 2020, on the grounds that the situation there was sufficiently safe.