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Return Fund (2008-13)

This decision establishes, as part of the general programme “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows”, a Return Fund for the period 2008-13 with resources totalling €676 million.


Decision No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 as part of the General Programme “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows”.


This decision defines the objectives of the Return Fund and the rules for its management. It also establishes the available financial resources for the fund and the criteria for their allocation.

The fund is aimed at persons enjoying (or applying for) international or temporary protection and those illegally resident in a European Union (EU) country.

Eligible actions

The fund can be used to finance national and transnational actions or actions at EU level.

National actions are directed towards designing integrated return management * in EU countries and enhancing cooperation between EU countries in this area. In addition, these actions are designed to promote uniform application of the European legislation on integrated return management.

Transnational actions and actions of interest to the EU include actions that:

  • further cooperation at EU level in implementing EU law and good practices;
  • support the development of statistical tools;
  • support transnational awareness-raising campaigns;
  • support the creation of a handbook on best practices in this area;
  • provide for assistance to EU countries in emergency situations;
  • support the setting up of pilot projects and transnational networks of bodies responsible for facilitating the exchange of information and good practices.

Principles governing the fund’s actions

In line with the priorities and objectives laid down by the EU, the fund will provide grants to support actions of a non-profit nature already co-financed by public or private sources. Support from the fund may not exceed 50% of the total cost of national actions. The EU contribution is increased to 75% in countries covered by the Cohesion Fund and for projects addressing specific priorities identified in the strategic guidelines.

The Commission will adopt strategic guidelines for the period 2008-13, defining EU level priorities for each of the objectives of the fund.

On the basis of these strategic guidelines, each EU country will prepare a multiannual programme setting out a strategy for and a description of the actions designed to achieve their objectives, as well as additional indications regarding project financing. It will also define the annual programmes implementing the multiannual programme.

Committee, review and repeal

The Commission is assisted by the Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows Committee. This decision must be reviewed by the European Parliament and the Council by 30 June 2013.


This decision carries forward the preparatory financial actions implemented under the Hague Programme, which are themselves part of the EU return policy instituted by the Return Action Programme of 28 November 2002. With resources totalling €676 million for this period, the fund is part of the general programme “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows”, established by the communication of 6 April 2005.

Key terms used in the act

  • Integrated return management: the development and implementation by EU countries of integrated return plans.
  • Integrated return plans: National plans composed of a set of measures intended to encourage voluntary or enforced return schemes for non-EU country nationals, particularly those who no longer fulfil the conditions for entry or stay in the host country. Based on a comprehensive assessment of the situation in respect of the targeted population and the difficulties anticipated in effecting the return, these plans focus on measures intended to achieve effective and sustainable returns to the country of destination. They also include an evaluation mechanism and, where appropriate, a timetable for implementation.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision No 575/2007/EC



OJ L 144 of 6.6.2007


Commission Decision 2008/458/EC of 5 March 2008 laying down rules for the implementation of Decision No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 as part of the General programme Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows as regards Member States’ management and control systems, the rules for administrative and financial management and the eligibility of expenditure on projects co-financed by the Fund [Official Journal L 167 of 27.6.2008].

Commission Decision 2007/837/EC of 30 November 2007 implementing Decision 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the adoption of the strategic guidelines for 2008 to 2013 [Official Journal L 330 of 15.12.2007]. This decision sets out the strategic guidelines for the period 2008-13, defining the EU level priorities and specific priorities for EU countries to address in order to receive an increased financial contribution from the Return Fund.

The decision provides four priorities with one or more specific priorities for each:

  • support EU countries in developing a strategic approach to return management. The integrated return plans should focus on assisted voluntary return programmes, cash incentives and measures to deal with the specific situation of vulnerable returnees, and the return of non-EU country nationals or stateless persons who are not covered by EU or national bilateral readmission agreements to countries with which cooperation is difficult;
  • support EU countries’ cooperation on return management. Projects should in particular address integrated return plans that have been designed and that will be applied in collaboration with EU countries and possibly with the European External Borders Agency, non-governmental and/or international organisations;
  • support specific innovative national or international tools for return management. Projects should propose innovative measures for informing and counselling potential returnees on the situation in the countries of return or other innovative incentives for increasing voluntary returns and test new working methods that will quicken the process of documenting returnees in collaboration with non-EU countries’ consular authorities and immigration services;
  • support EU level standards and best practices on return management. Projects in this area should address evaluations for measuring progress in all aspects of return programmes and national level measures that ensure the fair and effective application of the common standards on return.

Last updated: 06.08.2010