The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Belgium and three other Member States for failing to correctly transpose the Return Directive.
The directive lays down the conditions for the return to their home country of third-country nationals who do not have the right to reside in the European Union. The final piece of the common European asylum policy, it lays down the rules for returning non-EU citizens while encouraging their voluntary return.
Belgium, like Germany, Greece and Spain, has not correctly transposed the directive, according to the Commission, and is therefore facing an infringement procedure.
In particular, the Commission expects Belgium to bring its legislation in line with a 2011 ruling of the Court of Justice that a prison sentence for illegal residence can only be imposed if the return procedure has been fully implemented.
In Belgium, it is possible to impose a prison sentence during the return procedure.
A number of bills have already been reviewed in Belgium in recent years to correct this, but they have not yielded any results. In the meantime, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V) has submitted a new bill to the government, according to her cabinet.
Belgium now has two months to respond to the Commission's comments. If it fails to do so, the case could eventually be brought before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.