BRUSSELS, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Inefficiencies in cooperation between European Union (EU) and non-EU countries to ensure the return of migrants who enter the bloc illegally were flagged in a special report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published on Monday.
As a result, the EU only managed to achieve "limited progress" in concluding readmission agreements with third countries, the report said.
According to the special report, during the 2015-2020 period which it reviewed, the EU's actions were not streamlined enough to ensure that non-EU countries comply with their readmission obligations in practice.
It found that each year since 2008, about 500,000 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave the EU because they had entered it, or were staying, without authorization. However, fewer than one in five actually returned to their own countries outside Europe.
The ECA said that one of the reasons for the low number of returning irregular migrants is the difficulty of cooperating with migrants' countries of origin.
It said the EU has concluded 18 legally binding readmission agreements and formally opened discussions with six further countries. Recently, it has also negotiated six non-legally binding arrangements for returns and readmissions.
"We expect our audit to feed into the debate on the EU's new Pact on Migration and Asylum, because an effective and well-managed readmission policy is an essential part of a comprehensive migration policy," said Leo Brincat, member of the ECA responsible for the report, in a statement.
"Nevertheless, the EU's current returns system suffers greatly from inefficiencies that lead to the opposite of the intended effect: encouraging, rather than discouraging, illegal migration," he added.
Another weakness highlighted by the report is the lack of synergies within the EU itself. The EU has not always "spoken with one voice" to non-EU countries.
It found that although the European Commission made effective use of financial assistance for projects supporting development, re-integration and capacity-building, it struggled to use other policies providing effective support for negotiations, even where it could rely on extensive political and economic relationships.