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Brussels considers visa restrictions against non-EU countries refusing to take back migrants

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Brussels considers visa restrictions against non-EU countries refusing to take back migrants
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The European Commission is threatening to impose visa restrictions on non-EU countries that refuse to take back their citizens.

Margaritis Schinas, European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, told Euronews that Brussels is in the process of looking at a way to encourage third countries to take back migrants from their place of origin.

And this involves using visas as a way to pile pressure on the political elites from countries where migration levels are high - a plan that would hurt the upper echelons of society personally.

"This is a new tool that we have at our disposal, the so-called visa code, that in a way allows us to assess a number of 35 third countries to see their degree of cooperation that would, in turn, determine our granting of visas," Schinas explained.

"This is a new facility. We are now in the first phase of assessment. So, we just completed the assessment of these countries and we will come up with proposals and action in June. And this process is ongoing. So I wouldn't like to go now into individual countries, but this is an important new tool to build up the external dimension of migration policy."

The number of migrants arriving in Europe has plummeted in the past year, as the pandemic has closed borders and prevented the movement of people

But the issue still remains a contentious one across member states.

The list of countries has not yet been made public, however.

Turkey does appear to be on it though, amid a breakdown of the five-year agreement that allowed for migrants to be returned from the Greek islands in exchange for billions in EU funding.

Since August, Turkey has not taken any refugees back, but for Raphael Shilhav, a policy officer from Oxfam EU, countries need to work together better.

"There absolutely needs to be co-operation between neighbouring countries and richer countries. The fact of the matter is that most refugees in the world are living in poorer countries, very close to home. The ones who are making the journey to the European Union are doing it because there are not enough resettlement spots," Shilhav told Euronews.

"That allows them to arrive here through an organised mechanism. These people if they have arrived to stay in the European Union, if they are refugees, there is no reason to send them back anywhere else that is only increasing their difficulties and making their lives a lot more complicated than they should be."

Further details on the proposal are expected in a few months time.