The European Commission has said it will punish countries that refuse to take back illegal migrants by restricting visas for their diplomats.
The commission said on Wednesday that it has a new mechanism to trigger stricter conditions for processing visas when a partner country does not cooperate sufficiently.
The restrictions may include longer visa processing times, higher costs, fewer exemptions given to visiting diplomats or greater restrictions on the length of time they can stay in the EU.
Several African countries have refused to take their nationals back, impeding deportations and prompting EU leaders last year to agree to use visa policy as leverage.
EU member states have offered monetary incentives for voluntary return and aid to countries that take back their nationals but without the desired outcomes.
Under international law, the EU is required to settle people fleeing from war or persecution but does not have to take in economic migrants.
The Commission’s proposal to penalize countries with visa restrictions needs approval from the European Parliament and member states.