CfP Panel “When Deportation is called Return: changes and continuities in the EU management of irregular migration flows”- 2022 ECPR General Conference

CfP Panel “When Deportation is called Return: changes and continuities in the EU management of irregular migration flows”- 2022 ECPR General Conference

Panel Chair: Irene Landini (School of International Studies, University of Trento)

ECPR General Conference University, Innsbruck (Austria)- 22-26 August- Section “S21- International Migration Governance: Policies and Practices in Diverse Societies” (endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group Migration and Ethnicity)

Panel abstract: 

The topic of irregular migration dominates the debate on migration control in Europe (Spencer, 2011). Since the 2015 refugee crisis, there has been a growing focus on strengthening the return of irregular migrants and asylum seekers (De Bruycker et al., 2016), including both voluntary and forced return (also commonly known as “deportation”, cfr. Lindberg and Khosravi 2021; Cohen 2002). In September 2020 the European Commission presented, a New Pact on Migration and Asylum (the Pact). It aims at introducing a “comprehensive approach” linking return policies to border controls and asylum. More specifically, one of the amendments in the Pact links border return procedure and asylum border procedure into a single practice. Moreover, the Pact also introduces a new mechanism, the return sponsorship, intended to foster cooperation and solidarity among MS, in favor of host States under migratory pressure. Nevertheless, scholars have raised serious concerns of human rights violations and lack of accountability regarding these procedures (supported by increasing evidence).

Starting from this overall picture, the present panel aims at bringing together papers that critically engage with the role and recent evolution of return (especially deportation) policies and practices as a tool for migration and asylum flows control. It welcomes contributions addressing one or more of the following questions (as well as other relevant topics):

From the perspective of policy formulation:

  • How has the weight of return and deportation increased in national policy-making in the aftermath of the 2015 refugee crisis? How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted (and eventually changed) upon this process?
  • How and to what extent do non-state actors (NGOs, CSOs) influence national policy-making concerning return and deportation?

From the perspective of policy implementation and street-level enforcement of return decisions:

  • (How) Does the enforcement of deportation orders differ between in-country and borders’ procedures? In which contexts are migrants more vulnerable to informal and/or violent practices carried out by street-level bureaucrats? And how do border guards and bureaucrats in migration offices justify such practices?
  • How do the elements mentioned above differ across MS?
  • Which is the role of non-state actors (NGOs, CSOs) during deportation operations (e.g., contrasting violent practices, providing advisory/physiologic or other type of support)?
  • How can we critically address the growing role of (and powers assigned to) Frontex and its gradual transformation in a real “deportation agency”?

Impacts (in normative and empirical terms) of the new instruments to manage deportation:

  • Which are the impacts of the increased focus on return and deportation (e.g., the new return sponsorship mechanism and the link asylum-return border procedures) in terms of migrants and asylum seekers’ human rights under the EU and international law? And which are the impacts of these new instruments on the key pillars of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and especially solidarity and fair share of responsibility among MS?


Please submit your paper proposals (including a title, a 250-word paper abstract, and the name and institutional affiliation of the authors) to Irene Landini ( or by Monday, February 14 2022.


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