Return counselling


People with no right to stay in the EU are generally given a period for voluntary departure during which they should return following a return decision issued by national authorities.

Returnees are assisted throughout the process by professional return counsellors who discuss with them different return options and their consequences. In addition, the counsellors offer information about the situation in the country of origin and advise the returnees on possible reintegration support for people who decide to return voluntarily.

Frontex has recently launched a pilot training on return and reintegration counselling (RRC). During the pilot phase, the agency trained 14 return specialists from the Frontex standing corps.

During the training, return counsellors refresh their knowledge of EU legislation in the area of returns, practice cross-cultural communication and learn how to address special needs of vulnerable groups. The course also covers EU and international fundamental rights law, psychological aspects of the work, knowledge of national and European reintegration programmes, and other practical aspects of return counselling.

Ifigeneia, counsellor from Greece working in Cyprus: “This training was extremely valuable and useful. It helped me understand the role and responsibilities of return counsellor as a Frontex officer, and I feel better equipped for future challenges. It combined both theory and practice, and the provided materials about the EU strategy and Frontex Workplan on RRC were vital for my work as a counsellor. We were able to enhance our communication skills, self- and cultural awareness to be efficient in our daily activities. This training was one of a kind and I feel privileged that I was able to participate in it. I look forward to applying the skills I gained in my everyday work and my career.”

Andrej, counsellor from Slovenia working in Iceland: “One of the key skills a return counsellor must have is the ability to adjust their communication to each individual person. They need to be able to approach people of different social status, age, gender, or country of origin without personal biases and prejudices.”

This training is very important, as it helps to align the knowledge and skills of counsellors in all EU countries, and in effect, increases the number of people who return voluntarily to their countries of origin.  After the completion of the eight-day course, the trainees are able to start as Frontex return counsellors.

Returns are an essential part of border management and Frontex is playing an increasingly important role in this area.  In 2022, the agency helped to return a record number of people who were staying illegally in the EU.  Out of the 24 850 people Frontex helped to return last year, 40% returned voluntarily.

Soon, the agency will launch curriculum on Return and Reintegration Counselling for Member States and will offer trainings to experts from Member States. The curriculum will consist of a training which can be adjusted with extra modules based on the national requirements and needs of a specific country.

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