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You are invited to discover some of the likely impacts of the EU’s massive migration databases by following the experiences of Ousmane, Anna and María.

Deportation is, for many people, a life-changing and devastating experience. It often means being violently uprooted from a place and life into which they have poured so much of themselves and may have sacrificed enormously. [1] The constant threat of deportation also hangs over people’s heads making everyday activities like going to work or catching public transport fraught with anxiety and risk.

And yet deportation is the centrepiece of the EU’s migration agenda. Over the past few years, the EU has consistently focused on increasing the number of people deported – often at the expense of their most basic rights, and in spite of the harmful impact on all people with precarious residence status and wider communities.

This interactive story board focuses on the human impact of one specific aspect of the machinery that has been created to fulfil this goal: the EU interoperability regulations, which build new centralised databases storing data of all third country nationals in the EU with the aim of facilitating deportations.

These regulations are themselves deeply discriminatory, as they perpetuate harmful and false views of migrants  as threats, and treat migration as a national security issue, with criminal justice tools. To understand the full impact of these regulations and the apparatus they create, we must see them alongside other legal proposals that have been started (and, in some cases, completed) in recent years, intended to reduce the rights of migrants and investing massive amounts of resources and personnel into deporting people from the European Union. [1]

  • The 2018 proposal for a recast of the EU Return Directive justifies more use of detention, curtails the right to effective remedy, and speeds up return procedures.
  • The 2019 reform of the EU border agency (Frontex) massively increases the agency’s capacity and powers in the area of returns.[2]
  • In 2020, the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed to build an enormous new detention system at the EU external borders, and to further cut safeguards that protect people against possible human rights violations when they face deportation.[3]

You are invited to discover some of the ways that the EU’s massive migration information systems are likely to affect individuals by following the experiences of Ousmane, Anna and María.


[1] For testimonies of people who have been deported from the EU, see PICUM (2020), Removed: Stories of hardship and resilience in facing deportation and its aftermath.

[2] For an analysis of the combined impact of the interoperability regulations, the EU Recast Return Directive and the 2019 Frontex regulation, see Statewatch (2020), Deportation Union: Rights, accountability and the EU’s push to increase forced removals.

[3] To give an example, the term “return” appears more than 100 times in the Commission Communication on the New Pact on Asylum and Migration – while the term “rights” appears only 14 times.

For an analysis of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, see PICUM (2020), More detention, fewer safeguards: How the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum creates new loopholes to ignore human rights obligations.

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