The European Commission on Thursday proposed new rules for the 25 European Union nations to establish common standards on immigration and asylum.
The package includes proposals on returning illegal immigrants to their homelands, guidelines for integrating new migrants and closer cooperation with non-EU nations in dealing with refugees and other migrants.
"People staying illegally in the European Union must return to their country of origin," Franco Frattini, EU commissioner for freedom, security and justice, was quoted as saying by the AP.
Among the measures were a re-entry ban to prevent expelled illegal immigrants from returning to any EU country, a six-month limit on temporary custody for suspected illegal migrants and help for legal migrants who want to go back home.
Before they come into effect, the proposals must be approved by governments of the EU nations who have previously proved reluctant to replace national rules on immigration with European regulations.
Concerned that legal migration to Europe was causing a "brain drain" from poorer nations, Frattini proposed facilitating the voluntary return of skilled migrants, limiting recruitment in countries suffering skill shortages and making it easier for migrants to send money home.