|Abstract: ||Circular migration – a form of regulated migration based on the temporality of migrants – has been on the increase in the European Union (EU) in recent decades, and is now the preferred form of intake for immigrants. The benefit of this system is that it is supposed to provide positive outcomes for the three parties: countries of origin, countries of destination, and the migrants themselves.
In this paper, the lens of ‘integration’ is taken to analyse the effects of circular migration on all three parties. Integration, as the key motor to a successful experience for the migrant, is necessary in the country of destination for the migrant to be able to bring any skills, social capital or financial capital back home, and bring productive returns to the host country.
The increasingly controlled circular system - with tight visas and time limits – leads to an increase in the number of migrants who become irregular at the end of their stay on the European territory. These migrants then need to be ‘returned’ home. The destination countries take a tough stance towards workers in irregular status and the return can happen in a coercive or a non-coercive manner.
A successful and sustainable return depends on many variables: the experience in the country of destination, the conditions and reasons of the return, and the opportunities and circumstances back in the country of origin.
Different forms of return are analysed to determine which allow for a full learning experience abroad and sustainable return. It is demonstrated that any return other than the one ‘decided’ by the migrant will break their migration cycle and not allow for any long-term benefits for any of the three parties.
The principal argument of this paper is that there is a close relation between policies that do not allow for growth of social capital – or integration – and the poor achievement of sustainable returns. If any positive result or long-term benefit is desired, it is important to make room for the integration of migrants in EU countries, and not to lump all migrants together in a mass of foreigners that need to be moved away. Positive mechanisms and return incentives for returnee migrants will be addressed, as well as the need to change the discourse around immigration in countries of destination.|