New attempt for a common EU asylum policy – with many obstacles

New attempt for a common EU asylum policy – with many obstacles

Asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders?

Auf dem Weg in die EU: Flüchtlingen aus der Ukraine kommen am polnisch-ukrainischen Grenzübergang in Medyka an.

On the way to the EU: Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Medyka.

© Source: Frank Schultze/epd

The EU Commission wants to regulate the admission of refugees in the European Union. Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser is very accommodating. Surprisingly, the Greens are also taking part – although the plan is reminiscent of the former Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Markus Decker

Berlin. Nancy Faeser recently spoke of a “historic momentum” in redesigning the EU’s asylum policy. The traffic light coalition had agreed that asylum procedures should already take place at the EU’s external borders and should last a maximum of twelve weeks, the Federal Minister of the Interior told ARD. Subsequently, the recognized refugees should be distributed in solidarity in the EU. The SPD politician was reacting to plans by the EU Commission – apparently with the backing of the Greens and Liberals.

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The move is not only surprising because it is similar to a move by former Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in 2018. The CSU politician had brought up “transit centers” on Germany’s external borders, in which decisions would be made on the recognition of asylum applications and from which rejected applicants would be sent back. It is also surprising that even the Greens are in principle prepared to follow Faeser – with the chairwoman of the parliamentary group, Britta Haßelmann, recently emphasizing: “Access to constitutional asylum procedures must also be ensured in the future.”

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The Dublin system does not work

So far, the Dublin system has applied in the EU. It states that refugees must apply for asylum in the country where they first set foot on European Union soil. These are mainly Greece, Italy and Spain. But the system doesn’t work. The states mentioned often let those affected travel on. This is one of the reasons why the EU is increasingly working to protect its external borders – in other words: isolation. Fences and walls are erected. Refugees who make it are often rejected. Critics complain about such “pushbacks”.

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Nevertheless, the migration pressure continues to increase, not least on Germany. Last year, for example, 244,132 people from other countries who applied for asylum with us joined the approximately one million war refugees from Ukraine who are recognized as a lump sum. Cities and municipalities complain about it. They want more federal funding. They also want fewer refugees. Both will be an issue at the refugee summit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on May 10th.

The plan discussed in the EU aims to defuse the situation – if possible by next year’s European elections. “Everything has to mesh,” says the Federal Ministry of the Interior. It won’t be an easy task.

Village in North Friesland has more refugees than residents

There are almost 800 refugees and asylum seekers for every 700 inhabitants in the village of Seeth. You live in a country accommodation on the outskirts of the village.

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© Source: dpa

Gap between theory and practice in repatriation

The first main element of the concept, which Faeser also supports in principle, are camps in which asylum procedures are processed within three months – by people from countries where the recognition rate is not more than 15 percent. The main countries of origin such as Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq were left out. The question is where exactly these camps are to be set up, how large they should be and what exactly will happen to the rejected applicants. According to the federal government: “Repatriation must also be clarified.” In fact, there is a gap between theory and practice. For example, many refugees reach Greece via Turkey. But Green MEP Erik Marquardt says: “Turkey hasn’t taken back anyone illegally in Greece for three years.”

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The second main element of the concept is a solidarity mechanism. As part of this, the EU states should make a binding commitment as to how many refugees they would take in. If they absorb less than desired or none at all, the relevant states should pay money into a pot, from which the EU states that are particularly burdened will in turn receive money. Hungary and Poland have been refusing to do this for years. Sweden or Spain do not want to put the issue on the agenda now. One thing is clear: If Afghans, Syrians or Iraqis were excluded from the camp mechanism, the influx would not dry up either.

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Many hurdles at once

There are also domestic political hurdles. Here the Greens have the furthest way. An open refugee policy was always important to them. So it is not surprising that there is opposition from the eco-party. “What the EU Commission is planning is not a functional approach to solving the European asylum problems,” says MEP Marquardt. “I think the registration of refugees at the external borders is correct. After that, however, those affected must quickly go through the asylum process and also receive a decision quickly – no matter which country they come from. Mass detention camps on the external borders only lead to suffering and chaos.”

The Green commented on the refusal of some EU countries to participate in the fair distribution of refugees: “That will not change in the future either. In my view, the federal government must therefore renegotiate its position and ensure that such behavior is at least no longer worthwhile for these states and that they are obliged to pay money to states that are willing to accept them.”

So there are many hurdles all at once. It remains to be seen whether the “historical momentum” will lead to a new European asylum policy.

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