European Union

On 23 June 2016, UK citizens voted to leave the EU. On 29 March 2017, the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU. On 17 October 2019, the European Council (Article 50) endorsed the withdrawal agreement as agreed by the negotiators of both sides. It also endorsed the revised political declaration on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship.

On 12 September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recasting of the 2008 Return Directive, which stipulates common standards and procedures in Member States for returning irregular migrants who are non-EU nationals. Effectively returning irregular migrants is one of the key objectives of the European Union’s migration policy. However, Member States currently face challenges: national practices implementing the EU rules vary and the overall return rates remain below expectations. The proposal was not accompanied by a Commission impact assessment. The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) therefore asked the European Parliamentary Research Service to provide a targeted substitute impact assessment of the proposed recast Return Directive.

In order for the United Kingdom (UK) to avoid a ‘hard’ Brexit, an interim agreement addressing, amongst other issues, the legal status of UK nationals living in other European Union (EU) countries as well as that of EU citizens living in the UK is required. The agreement must come into effect by 30 March 2019 unless the European Council, in agreement with the UK, unanimously agrees to extend this deadline in accordance with Article 50, paragraph 3 of the Treaty on European Union. Otherwise, all agreements pertaining to the Union and to the treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community will no longer have effect for the UK as of midnight (Brussels time) on 29 March 2019. After this deadline, the United Kingdom will be considered a third country, i.e. a non-member country. All agreements pertaining to overseas countries and territories that have special relations with the UK and to the European territories whose foreign affairs are overseen by the UK, and to which the agreements apply under Article 355 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, will no longer have effect.

The European Commission has awarded an additional € 6.48 million in emergency assistance to improve reception conditions in accommodation centers in the Greek islands of Lesvos (Kara Tepe) and Chios (Souda). With this funding the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will provide services such as food, water and sanitation supply and help ensure protection for vulnerable migrants as well as education and healthcare.