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Return Fund

To ensure a sustainable and credible policy approach to the management of migration flows, it is essential to address the problem of irregular migration. An effective return policy – in conformity with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and based on the preference for voluntary return – is key to this objective.

Supporting EU countries in improving the management of return

The European Return Fund (RF), in which all EU countries participate except for Denmark, allocates EUR 676 million for the period 2008–13. Specifically, it seeks to improve return management as well as to encourage the development of cooperation between EU countries and with countries of return.

Concrete actions

In this context, the Fund provides support for actions assisting returnees' return to their country of origin and their reintegration processes; and activities enhancing the quality of information on voluntary return. Measures co-financed by the Fund include, for example, the setting up of voluntary return and reintegration programmes, specific assistance for vulnerable returnees (e.g. persons who are ill or disabled, unaccompanied minors, the elderly, etc) and support for innovative tools and actions supporting the sharing of best practices between EU States. The Fund also co-finances activities of forced return in cases where voluntary return is no longer possible (e.g. where persons who have received a return decision have refused to return voluntarily).

General implementation mechanisms of the RF

National Programmes: the Fund is mainly implemented by EU countries through shared management. Each EU State implements the Fund through national annual programmes on the basis of multiannual programming.

Community Actions: at the Commission's initiative, up to 7% of the RF's available resources may be used to finance transnational actions or actions of interest to the EU as a whole.

Examples of projects

Programme for voluntary return of vulnerable persons

An information campaign promoting voluntary return ensured non-EU migrants were aware of the option of an assisted return to their country of origin, while reintegration measures, including practical support, ensured the return was successful in the longer term.

Project dates:  30/12/2011 - 30/06/2012RFBulgaria

Strengthening consultation with the diplomatic missions of third countries

By improving relationships and cooperation with third country diplomatic missions, the Romanian authorities have improved processes for identifying non-EU nationals residing in Romania.

Project dates:  20/12/2010 - 30/06/2011RFRomania

Additional tools


Voluntary return

The assisted or independent return to the country of origin, transit or third country based on the free will of ...


Vulnerable person

Minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents with minor ...



A non-EU national migrant who moves to a country of return, whether voluntary or forced.


Return Programme

Programme to support (e.g. financial, organisational, counselling) the return, possibly including ...



In a general sense, the act or process of going back to the point of departure. This could be within the territorial ...



Re-inclusion or re-incorporation of a person into a group or a process, e.g. of a migrant into the society of ...


Migration flow

The number of migrants crossing a boundary, within a specific time period, for the purpose of establishing ...



The movement of a person or a group of persons, either across an international border (international migration),...



Comprises three main tasks: - supervision and responsibility for increasing the performance of others...


Irregular migration

The movement of a person to a new place of residence or transit using irregular or illegal means, without valid ...


European Return Fund

A financial instrument for the period 2008 to 2013, which supports EU States in the management of return...


Community actions

Transnational actions of interest to the EU as a whole. These are financed by the EU through the Funds in the ...


Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Reaffirms, with due regard for the powers and tasks of the Union and for the principle of subsidiarity, the rights ...


Basic act

Act of secondary law (regulation, directive or decision) laying down the objectives and conditions for budget ...



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