The European Union is considering restricting visas to countries that do not accept deportations of their nationals in an effort to increase returns of illegals following a meeting in Sweden on Thursday.

European Union member state interior ministers met Thursday in Stockholm to discuss issues of immigration and agreed to use a tool enacted in 2020 that could allow for tighter visa restrictions on countries which do not accept the return of their nationals who have been flagged for deportation from the bloc.

“Should intensified political and diplomatic efforts not produce the desired results, member states call on the Commission to come back to the Council with proposals on visa restrictions,” Swedish migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard said, France24 reports.

The new tougher migration position of the European Union was also reflected in a letter sent to EU leaders by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday ahead of a summit on February 9th and 10th.

The letter stated that Ms von der Leyen wants the EU to create a list of safe countries for immediate deportations and invited member states to sign up for a scheme in the first six months of 2023 to increase the speed of asylum procedures and process immediate deportations for those who do not meet asylum requirements.

Thursday’s meeting comes after comments from EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, who stated on Wednesday, “Of course, those that are not eligible to stay in the European Union have to be returned to their country of origin,” and added that the number of successful deportations “needs to be increased.”

Last year, the European Union saw the largest number of illegal entries since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 and 2016, with the border agency Frontex reporting around 330,000 illegal entries in 2022.

The bloc has struggled to deport migrants, with just 21 per cent of the 340,500 removal orders seeing migrants removed to their country of origin in 2021.

The topic of deportation has also been discussed in France in recent months, with a media report noting that during the coronavirus pandemic, less than 10 per cent of deportation orders were carried out.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)