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France top country in Europe for ordering non-EU citizens to leave

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
France top country in Europe for ordering non-EU citizens to leave
Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

When it comes to the number of non-EU citizens ordered to leave the country France is far ahead of the rest of Europe, new figures have revealed.

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More than 422,000 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave EU countries in 2022, according to new data published by the EU statistical office Eurostat. The figure represents an increase of almost a quarter compared to 2021, when the number was around 342,000.

The Eurostat data does not give the reasons that people were ordered to leave, but the most common reasons for being ordered to leave a country are overstaying visa limits or breaching visa rules (for example working while on a non-working visa). It is also common for foreign criminals to be served with a deportation order after completing a jail sentence. 

Among EU member states France stood out well above the rest for the number of leave orders issued last year - French authorities issued 135,640 orders to leave in 2022, Eurostat revealed.

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That was followed by Croatia (40,550) and then Greece (33,600). These three countries together accounted for almost half of third-country nationals ordered to leave the EU in 2022.

Other countries covered by The Local also issued thousands of orders to leave: Germany (32,860), Italy (28,185) and Austria (26,355) Sweden (14,885) Spain (10,805), Switzerland (5,530), Norway (3,560) and Denmark (2,450).

The largest increase among these countries was recorded by Italy (+154 percent), Austria (+130 percent) and Spain (+138 percent). 

For France, more than a third of leave orders (35 percent) were issued to Algerian nationals (27,295), some 10,490 were given to Moroccans and 10,265 Tunisians were ordered to leave in 2022 - Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia also represent the largest non-EU migrant groups in France, so the statistics are in line with population trends.

Returned from France to another country

However, all countries reported a big difference between the number of people ordered to leave and the number who were actually returned to another country.

In part this can be accounted for by people either leaving voluntarily after being served a notice to quit or succesfully challenging the notice, but there are also problems with enforcement of orders to quit.

France has recently seen several scandals around people committing serious crimes - including murder - who had been served notice to leave the country but had simply stayed on illegally.

Of the 135,640 orders issued, French authorities returned just 14,235 people in 2022 compared to 11,630 in 2021.

Among the 14,235 people returned by France, the largest groups were from Albania (2,365), Algeria (2,360), Georgia (1,180) Tunisia and Morocco (1,065 each). France and Morocco spent several years in a political stand-off over repatriation - with France in 2022 refusing to issue new visas to Moroccan citizens because of what it says was a refusal of Morocco to repatriate its citizens from France.

The number for all non-EU citizens returned across the EU was 95,575 in 2022 compared to 80,455 in 2021, a rise of 18 percent.

UK citizens post-Brexit

In contrast to its high number of orders to quit for all non-EU nationals, France appears to have taken a more relaxed approach to UK nationals, with a relatively low number of Brits ordered to leave, despite France having one of the biggest populations of Brits in the EU.

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Some 1,270 UK citizens were ordered to leave EU countries in 2022, 5 percent fewer than in 2021. In total, 2,610 British nationals were ordered to leave EU countries since Brexit including 115 from France.

That number includes 40 British citizens ordered to leave in 2021 and another 75 in 2022.

Sweden remains the toughest country towards UK nationals, with the largest number of leaver orders in 2022 (385), although these almost halved compared to 2021 (715). Some 1,100 Brits have been ordered to leave Sweden since Brexit with 800 actually having been expelled.

When it comes to actually returning British citizens following orders to leave - just 45 were returned from France in 2022 compared to 25 the previous year.

The data does not provide reasons for expulsions, so it is not possible to know whether this is related to a failure to complete post-Brexit paperwork or other reasons such as having committed a serious crime in France.

US citizens

The number of US citizens ordered to leave EU countries slightly increased in 2022 reaching 1,720 compared to 1,690 in 2021. The majority was reported in the Netherlands (1,060 and 980 respectively).

France ordered 100 US citizens to leave in 2022, a similar number to 2021.

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As regards the countries covered by The Local, Sweden ordered 170 US citizens to depart in 2022; Norway 135 compared to 795 the previous year; Germany 35 Denmark and Italy 25, Spain 10 and Austria 10.

Only 450 US citizens were returned to another country, and 10 from Norway, with the Netherlands accounting for only 65, Sweden 95, Norway 70, Austria 90, France 20, Denmark and Germany 15, Spain 10 and Italy and Switzerland zero.

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