Fortunately, there is the financial section of the FAZ. This is where the important questions are asked. No complaining about the short-time work allowance (the FAZ ennobles it with the attribute generous), artists without social security or shopkeepers without sales, but: What to do with all that money? Exactly, a big worry, because in the first lockdown people had to spend practically nothing, and “at the end of this lockdown January the Germans will find a lot of money in their checking accounts again that they had no meaningful use for.”
This problem was just missing, and if it is not solved, the Germans will probably develop a full-blown disenchantment with money. The FAZ has a few pieces of advice on how to counteract this (for example, pay off mortgages, beautify your own house or buy shares), but that’s definitely not for everyone. Don’t most Germans already own a debt-free, stylish villa with a safe in which a cleverly sorted block of shares slumbers, dear FAZ?
So what. But what not everyone has: a model railway. That may sound old-fashioned, but first of all, the short-time working and down-tempted people need a hobby so that they don’t get bored in their debt-free, stylish mansions with the stocks alone. And secondly, the model railway manufacturer Piko was actually able to increase its sales by almost 15 percent in 2020.
Such a railway system has something. Ask Horst Seehofer. He is one of the most famous model railroaders and would have had much more time for the signalman job in his basement had he taken his threat of resignation in the summer of 2018 seriously. But that’s only incidentally, because the Bundestag election will soon be back and Seehofer is still ministering, although we have recently heard suspiciously little from him. Maybe he’s sitting in his basement more often than we think.
The model train layout is a wonderful place. Because there everyone can tinker their own world. The world as will and imagination, as the model railway pioneer Arthur Schopenhauer postulated. Nowadays, a system would of course have to have signs at the train stations that ask to wear a mask. Depending on the condition of the railway operator, the figures on streets and platforms may or may not keep their distance; A vaccination center or a lateral thinker demo can be placed next to the train station. You can also recreate the most beautiful corona hotspots. The virus has chosen particularly scenic areas such as Upper Lusatia, the Ore Mountains, the Thuringian Forest and Gütersloh.
I beg your pardon? Isn’t that all cheap? Just have a look at your current account.
Seven months after the Federal Administrative Court had actually forced him to do so, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) gave in to the dispute over church asylum. It’s about so-called Dublin cases. These are refugees who are threatened with deportation to the European country where they were first registered during their flight. In order to be protected from repatriation, they should in future have to spend less time in church asylum.
Dublin cases make up the lion’s share of church asylums. In December there were 282 such cases out of 295 church asylums, according to the nationwide working group “Asylum in the Church”. The Dublin Regulation states that you should complete your asylum procedure in the EU state you enter first. Other European countries can take over the asylum procedure in humanitarian emergencies. They have to take it over if they fail to send the refugee to the other EU country for six months. Only in cases when the refugees go into hiding in Germany do German authorities have 18 instead of six months to send the refugees to other EU countries.
Many refugees resist being returned to other EU countries because they had traumatic experiences there. They were abandoned homeless in Italy, tortured in Croatia or had to endure in Greek slum camps. Other refugees have relatives in Germany who look after them and therefore want to stay here. If parishes recognize a humanitarian hardship, they grant sanctuary. Most of the refugees in church asylum are also sick. When so-called Dublin cases go to church asylum, all they have to do is wait until the six or 18 months are up. Then you can stay here until your asylum procedure has been completed.
In the summer of 2018, the federal and state interior ministers decided to treat all refugees in sanctuary as if they had gone into hiding. In other words, parishes did not have to host them for six months, but rather 18 months to give them temporary protection. Unless the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees recognized a case of hardship. According to “Asylum in the Church” from 2018 onwards, this was increasingly rare. For the refugees this meant: They were excluded from all integration measures for 18 months. The parishes, monasteries and religious orders had to provide for the livelihood of their guests for 18 months. Because anyone who is in church asylum is excluded from state benefits. The churches also have to pay for medical services for their guests during this time. This is where denominational hospitals often step in by providing free treatment.
In June 2018 the Federal Administrative Court ruled that it is unlawful to consider refugees in church asylum as hiding. Numerous administrative courts had previously seen it that way. The authorities know where they are and could theoretically deport them. Simply out of respect for the church as an institution, they do not do this. The judges ruled that the deadline to send people to southern Europe must end after six months, not 18. Nevertheless, it took Seehofer’s authority seven months to implement the highest court ruling.
The ecumenical working group “Asylum in the Church” welcomed the late decision. “We now hope that this will initiate a return to a solution-oriented understanding on humanitarian hardship cases,” says spokeswoman Dietlind Jochims. For the people in sanctuary there is hope that their reasons for fleeing could be examined more quickly.
German diplomats spoke of a “Franco-German moment” that we experienced this year: together, both countries have achieved a lot in the EU. But the couple is more reminiscent of a community of convenience in which the German side in particular only invests a minimum.
Sure, there were mutual successes in 2020. The biggest was the agreement on a European fund for economic reconstruction after the Covid recession. The federal government and the French executive proposed it and enforced it against much opposition, including from the populists in Hungary and Poland. For the first time, the rule of law can be claimed in the EU.
But the Franco-German engine – the French prefer to speak of a couple, this difference speaks volumes – is head-controlled. Reflexes, as one would expect in a close partnership, are no longer there.
We experienced this more clearly in 2020 than ever after the war: During the first Corona wave in the spring, German interior ministers introduced controls at the border to France and Luxembourg without prior consultation, barred most of the crossings completely, and banned French cross-border commuters on their way back from the Work shopping in German stores. The friends had mutated into virus carriers for her overnight.
Helmut Schmidt’s deep feeling of solidarity has been lost
Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer covered the action, the oh-so-European-friendly Foreign Office looked strained in a different direction and did not feel responsible. “Minister, we never want to experience something like that again!”, A Conservative MP threw at Seehofer at a public meeting of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly.
The meeting started this year, and the fact that a French politician can publicly criticize a German minister shows that it opens up new leeway. One would have liked a happier occasion for this demonstration.
RReal politicians from the Union and the SPD are examining a legal ban on special rights for people with corona vaccination. “The SPD parliamentary group is currently examining legal measures to rule out unequal treatment of non-vaccinated and vaccinated persons by the private sector,” said the legal policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Johannes Fechner, of “Welt” on Tuesday: “It is unacceptable that airlines only take vaccinated persons with them or that restaurants deny access to non-vaccinated persons. Such a special regulation would lead to divisions in society. “
According to Fechner, a supplement to the German Civil Code that regulates the admissibility of general terms and conditions (AGBs) is conceivable: “Here you could stipulate that, for example, AGBs that link the transport of people to the vaccination status are inadmissible.” a “clarification in the General Equal Treatment Act that no one may be disadvantaged who does not have himself vaccinated” is conceivable.
Volker Ullrich, legal policy spokesman for the CSU regional group, told the newspaper: “The state is already subject to a general ban on discrimination. It is therefore forbidden from the outset to distinguish between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people in public transport, for example. In the private sector, on the other hand, there is a regulatory loophole that we have to address. ”For example, no restaurant may refuse people because of their origin, but a ban on discrimination against non-vaccinated people has not yet been regulated by law.
Sebastian Bickerich, spokesman for the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, said that from a legal point of view, the General Equal Treatment Act has so far not provided any means for non-vaccinated people to take action against possible unequal treatment in everyday business: “The law formulates six specific grounds for discrimination in which unequal treatment is prohibited – these include, for example Disabilities. If the legislature wanted to take precautions so that non-vaccinated people would not suffer any disadvantages, it would have to regulate this specifically, ”warned Bickerich.
Shortly after the official start of the corona vaccinations, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) also joined those who reject possible special rights for vaccinated people. “Many are waiting in solidarity so that some can be vaccinated first. And those who have not yet been vaccinated expect the vaccinated to be patient in solidarity, ”he told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
“Nobody should demand special rights until everyone has had the chance to vaccinate.” It is this mutual respect that holds the nation together: “We are fighting the pandemic together, and we will only overcome it together,” stressed Spahn. Previously, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had spoken out against privileges for vaccinated people.
Who decides whether someone has a chance of a decent life or not? The young man who was deported from Berlin via Leipzig to Kabul on Tuesday afternoon no longer has them. This was decided by the Berlin immigration office, which has been called the “State Office for Immigration” for a year. According to the Berlin Refugee Council, she has ensured that the protection status of the 21-year-old, which he was granted due to a severe post-traumatic stress disorder, was lifted.
What is it that makes public officials use a violent method to have someone who had to experience severe violence as a child while fleeing to a life-threatening region? Afghanistan is extremely affected by the corona pandemic. The number of infected people is increasing rapidly, and the humanitarian situation continues to worsen. Sources of income have collapsed for large sections of the population, and the security situation is disastrous. The Institute for Economic Affairs and Peace classifies Afghanistan as the most dangerous country in the world, even more dangerous than Syria. Most people worldwide die there as a result of armed conflict. None of this is unknown. None of this can be glossed over.
Berlin’s refugee policy cannot be glossed over either. It’s threadbare. On the one hand, Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) campaigns for the admission of Mediterranean refugees and wants to sue Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) because he refuses to accept them. On the other hand, he has people deported who try to escape the violence they have experienced many times over. This is a deeply shameful act not only in pandemic times and in the middle of winter.
Dhe long-announced major EU asylum reform is like an unfinished story of fate. On Thursday, the 27 interior ministers of the EU held their last meeting under the German EU Council Presidency, which was due to expire at the end of the year, and were unable to announce any definition of the central elements of a new EU asylum system.
This political agreement was the declared goal of Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), who had to be represented by a state secretary due to corona contact. In autumn of the previous year he had his ministry work out an ambitious plan for a new Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and then traveled across Europe to advertise it to partner countries and the EU Commission.
Months ago he had to refrain from the original plan of adopting this “European response” to the migration problem, which had been outstanding for years, during the German Council Presidency. Also because the corona pandemic superimposed all other topics and the EU Commission under Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) postponed its GEAS reform proposal three times and only presented it at the end of September.
Since then, the motto has been that by the end of the year at least a political agreement should be reached by all states on the structure of the future CEAS, which will then be cast into EU laws in the coming six months under the Portuguese Council Presidency and decided by Parliament and the EU Council should. In October, after a discussion with the other EU interior ministers, Seehofer said: “A real fire was lit for me today.” He is very optimistic that the agreement will come this year.
The last date to reach such a political agreement was the interior ministers’ meeting on Monday. Instead of an agreement, at the end of the German Council Presidency there is only a joint “progress report on the core elements of a European migration and asylum policy and how to proceed”.
It shows the current status of the discussion between the states. “The necessary new beginning has been initiated”, the debate about the asylum reform is still “in an early phase”, it says cautiously in the paper available to WELT. But the crucial thing is missing: namely the answer to the central question of how Europe will deal with migrants who enter illegally and apply for asylum, but are then rejected. According to the EU Commission, this is the case with two thirds of asylum seekers, but the majority are not deported.
Austria’s Minister of the Interior
How this will work in the future is not yet clear at the end of this year. The subsequent problem has not been solved either: the question of distribution of those entitled to stay. The states agree on the very broad lines.A recurring pattern:As long as it does not become specific, there is agreement on the goals of a new CEAS. The progress report emphasizes: “The Union must better prevent irregular migration to the EU” and at the same time come to “faster, more humane, more efficient and resilient” asylum procedures. After all, there is a need for “compulsory solidarity support for the Member States most affected”.
What this support looks like and whether it has to be provided by the admission from the coastal states – there is still no consensus: “Some Member States currently see the need for a flexible mechanism, while others in particular see compulsory redistribution as a key element of meaningful solidarity” says the progress report.
The interior ministers also state in their paper that “persons who do not meet the conditions for legal entry into the EU and who are not entitled to protection are generally not allowed to enter the EU or should leave the EU again as soon as possible.” That’s clear The aim is formulated – with this, the EU states only affirm exactly what the national immigration laws and the current EU asylum system already provide:
Illegal migration is not permitted, but is accepted if someone asks for refugee protection – however, as a rule, he should leave the country again if his application is rejected. The problem is that neither the EU nor any of its member states are achieving this goal of managing migration, which is why a major EU asylum reform has been announced for years.
In this regard, the progress report does not lack goals, proposals and requests: “A permanent migration and asylum system requires an improved return policy at European level,” it says. So that this can take effect soon, the “EU Commission, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the EU member states, is asked to promote tailor-made partnerships” with important states, especially those in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey.
In order to “improve cooperation with third countries in the area of return”, the EU Commission should “fully exploit the possibilities of economic and diplomatic leverage effects of the EU” and also use development aid and the visa policy as a lever to encourage the willingness of countries of origin and transit to take back increase.
When the asylum reform will come is unclear
All of these proposals have long been known, the only thing missing is effective implementation. In the meantime, there are increasing concerns in the EU Parliament and the Bundestag that the major EU asylum reform may not even be passed in the coming six months. State Secretary Stephan Mayer (CSU), who represented Horst Seehofer on Monday, also indicated doubts about an imminent success. His House will follow the development of the CEAS reform during the Portuguese Council Presidency in the next six months and “also during the Slovenian Council Presidency very intensively and very constructively”.
French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear weeks ago when he called for a Schengen reform and criticized the inadequate protection of external and internal borders that the patience of some of the main target states of asylum seekers with the EU and its institutions in solving the migration problem is not infinite.
The Chairman of the Interior Committee in the Bundestag, Andrea Lindholz, is also concerned about the GEAS delay: “Schengen will fail if the Europeans do not finally control their external borders reliably and consistently send rejected asylum seekers back,” said the CSU politician WELT. The Federal Minister of the Interior tried “everything to soften the fatal asylum self-blockade of the EU”, unfortunately “Corona, Brexit, climate and the EU budget had heavily overshadowed the important discussion about the CEAS reform”. The German Council Presidency had hardly any time because the Commission presented its reform proposals very late. The federal government must now “stay on the ball in matters of the GEAS”.
On the occasion of the dramatic corona numbers, more and more politicians are pushing for tougher measures – and that soon. The 7 most important questions and answers.
Despite the lockdown, the Christmas tree is festively decorated Photo: imago images
1 Why should a sharper lockdown now come after all?
Because it is becoming increasingly clear that the measures taken so far are absolutely insufficient. After the new contact restrictions came into force at the end of October, the increase in the number of new infections reported daily was initially stopped, and the values even fell slightly for three weeks. But last week the numbers rose again – at first a little, then dramatically: On this Friday, the daily value of 29,875 new cases was more than 25 percent higher than the previous high, which came from the previous day. While the new increase was initially mainly concentrated in the eastern federal states, the values are now increasing in all countries.
The number of corona deaths reported daily has risen steadily since the introduction of the new restrictions. On average, 419 people died per day in connection with Corona in the past week. At the beginning of November this figure was still 64 deaths a day; the peak during the first wave was 233 deaths a day in April. Malte Kreutzfeldt
2 What does Merkel say?
Angela Merkel usually remains stoic like a boulder in the Uckermark, even in dramatic situations. But on Wednesday she spoke to the Germans and the Prime Ministers so passionately into the conscience that one has seldom seen her.
“If we have too many contacts now before Christmas and then it was the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we will have missed something,” shouted the Chancellor at the lectern. “We shouldn’t do that.” She made it unmistakably clear that she believed the recommendations of the Leopoldina science organization to be correct.
School closings earlier and home office as the rule before Christmas, a tough lockdown after Christmas. To mulled wine stands and waffle bakeries in the cities, Merkel said: “I am really sorry in my heart”, but if the price is that 590 people die that day, “then that is not acceptable from my point of view”.
The Chancellor has obviously had enough of the indiscipline of many people and the hesitation of some Prime Ministers. At the end of November, they decided to relax for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is also calling for a tough lockdown – before Christmas. Merkel wants to consult with the prime minister again on Sunday. Ulrich Schulte
3 What about the hospitals?
The situation is worsening. An example from the particularly affected Oberspreewald-Lausitz district in southern Brandenburg: There were just 13 Covid-19 patients there during the first corona wave in spring: there have been 134 since autumn. Up to 90 employees are within a few days: failed inside because they had to be quarantined or are otherwise ill. The clinic management has already had all plannable treatments postponed and completely taken 130 beds in normal wards off the network.
And it is not enough: in the meantime, patients who can be relocated are being taken to surrounding clinics, although their capacities are also being exhausted. In parts of Germany, for example in Saxony or Bavaria, the situation is even more dramatic, in some cases there are no more beds in the intensive care units. In some Corona hotspots, according to information from employees, even nursing staff who have tested positive are still being used.
“We will very soon be at the limit of what is possible,” said the head of the Berlin Charité, Heyo K. Kroemer, on Thursday. In purely mathematical terms, around 4,700 intensive care beds of around 22,500 are currently available nationwide. But beds that can be occupied and for which sufficient staff are available, “there aren’t very many in Germany any more,” says Kroemer. Manuela Heim
4 What will happen to the Christmas business?
It is still unclear whether the shops will have to close in the next few days or just a few days before Christmas. It is certain that the stationary retail trade will be closed and then last until January 10th. Some country leaders have already announced this.
Berlin wants to close all shops that do not sell groceries by December 20 at the latest. In Saxony, this shutdown will apply from Monday. Problem with this: the neighboring federal states fear an onslaught of Saxon consumers: inside their inner cities – and thus with even more infections. The federal government and some prime ministers are therefore pushing for a nationwide approach.
The industry associations are up against it. For retailers, the weeks before and after Christmas are the best-selling weeks of the year. Every day of closure in the non-food trade causes a nationwide loss of sales of 800 million euros. The retail associations are calling for the same government aid programs that have been in place for pubs, restaurants and cultural venues since November.
These receive up to 75 percent of their average turnover from November 2019. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) refers to the bridging aid III, with which all strongly affected companies get a large part of their fixed costs. But that’s not enough for the retail associations. They warn of business dying on an unprecedented scale.
For shoppers who do not have all the presents together, it should be tight. The delivery services are already at the limit of their capacities, the stocks of many online retailers have been used up. Then only one thing helps: vouchers under the Christmas tree. Felix lee
5 Why are the schools closed now?
For a long time the ministers of education insisted: schools must remain open. Now they have capitulated to the high numbers of infections. “Schools must also do their part to reduce infections,” said the Rhineland-Palatinate School Minister Stefanie Hubig (SPD) on Friday, summarizing the status of the discussion after the Conference of Ministers of Culture (KMK). Schools are not hotspots, but neither are virus-free bubbles and cannot decouple, agreed the Hessian Minister of Education, Alexander Lorz (CDU). However: “If we close schools and leave shopping centers open, it won’t do anything,” warned Lorz.
Federal states such as Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia have already lifted compulsory schooling, and schools will be orphaned nationwide by the start of the Christmas holidays on December 18 at the latest, and that for several weeks. However, Hubig does not want the extended vacation, as suggested by the Leopoldina, but rather tight distance learning after the Christmas vacation, alternating with face-to-face lessons as soon as possible. There should be emergency care for the younger children.
However, the KMK cannot prescribe this, in any case the result of its deliberations is only received by the minister-presidents as a recommendation. The ministers of education did not dare to predict how long the schools would be closed. Neither does the impact of this school lockdown on final exams and curricula. Anna Lehmann
6 How do we celebrate Christmas now?
In most federal states, it is still the case that on Christmas days you can celebrate privately with up to ten people at the same time (children up to 14 years not counted). The number of households is not limited in most federal states. However, it is currently unlikely that these regulations will hold until Christmas Eve.
In Berlin and Thuringia, the maximum number of visitors has long been limited to five people plus children up to 14 years, other countries such as North Rhine-Westphalia are now announcing the same steps.
Young Muslim activists no longer feel like talking about Islamists when they talk about Islam. You can read about how to counter this in the taz on the weekend of 12./13. December. Also: Why the Greens chairwoman Annalena Baerbock wants the climate to be a matter for women chancellors. And: A home visit to the ironer from Lake Constance. From Saturday at the kiosk, in the eKiosk, with a practical weekend subscription and around the clock on Facebook and Twitter.
The visiting rules can still change. You can find them on the websites of the state governments.
The question arises as to whether and how they should be controlled at all. The public order offices are responsible for violations of the infection protection ordinances, but they have no right of access to private apartments, according to the Berlin-Mitte district office. Unpopular neighbors who register a large group of visitors next door could call the police for violating the corona rules.
The extent to which the police are prepared for such cases could not be found out by the Berlin police at the time of going to press. In Thuringia, State Minister of Health Heike Werner (Linke) has already declared that compliance with the maximum guest limit in apartments is not monitored. Barbara Dribbusch
7 Can you protect yourself with a quarantine or with quick tests before the visit?
If you reduce your contacts a week before your Christmas visit, you reduce the risk of getting infected and possibly passing the virus on to your old parents. The rapid antigen tests, which you can do at the appropriate test centers or your family doctor, or order online, also help. A negative test result is only a snapshot.
The rapid antigen test does not necessarily work immediately after an infection, if you are not yet highly contagious, but usually only in the course of the first week after an infection, if you are highly infectious yourself. A few days of self-quarantine plus a quick test before the visit are therefore the safest option. Barbara Dribbusch
The reform of asylum policy has divided the EU states for years. Interior Minister Seehofer wanted to break the blockade during the German Council Presidency. But the EU states are still at odds.
Even under the German Presidency, the EU countries have not been able to decisively advance key elements of the asylum reform. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) thus misses his goal of achieving a breakthrough in the project that has been blocked for years. The controversial question of the distribution of migrants seeking protection in Europe remains unsolved. There are different views on how “in concrete terms solidarity between the European member states should take place” when a country is overloaded, said the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Stephan Mayer (CSU), on Monday on the sidelines of a video conference of the EU interior ministers.
Mayer represented Seehofer in the EU deliberations because the minister is in quarantine as a precautionary measure because of a possible corona contact. The State Secretary endeavored to draw a positive conclusion from the German EU Council Presidency. With regard to the issue of migration, they are significantly further than six months ago. They have “put the train on a track” and the “train is definitely going in the right direction”. The atmosphere of the conversation is much better than it was a few years ago. However, there was hardly any concrete progress on key points.
Seehofer: “very good discussions”
Minister Seehofer also spoke of “very good discussions in the past two months”. You leave “a solid foundation,” it said in a statement from his ministry. “There are still many technical questions to be clarified, but there is already agreement on many essential elements of migration policy.”
Since July, Germany has held the regular chairmanship of the EU states for six months. That is why Seehofer has led the negotiations with his EU colleagues in recent months. In November he was confident that “we can reach a political agreement on the principles of European migration policy by the end of this year”.
Progress paper: No solutions on key issues
The German Council Presidency has now recorded the results of the negotiations in a progress report that was presented during the deliberations on Monday. The paper clearly shows that there is no solution in sight in the central points. This applies above all to the question of how responsibility for those seeking protection is distributed among the EU states. “Some Member States currently see the need for a flexible mechanism, while others see compulsory redistribution in particular as a key element of meaningful solidarity,” the report said.
The EU countries have not been able to come to a common denominator on this question for years. In the current system, the southern countries in particular, where many refugees arrive, see themselves burdened. However, other states such as Hungary and Poland refuse to allow themselves to be obliged to accept migrants. To resolve the blockade, the EU Commission presented new reform proposals in September. However, these apparently did not bring the breakthrough.
Criticism comes from the Greens
The migration policy spokesman for the Greens / EFA in the European Parliament, Erik Marquardt, criticizes the fact that no solution has been found: “Everything that Horst Seehofer has to show in EU asylum policy is a progress report with no progress.” The strategy of the German Council Presidency had failed, said the Green politician. “She wanted to force a European solution by calling for the suffering at the external borders to be eliminated only if there was a European consensus. Now we still have suffering, chaos and violence against those seeking protection, but still no solution.”
The State Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Mayer, on the other hand, said the German progress report shows that it is possible “to define a common core and common interests in many things”. He considers the mere fact that the EU Commission intends to use a return coordinator to be considerable progress. In addition, there is a “harmony of interests”, for example when it comes to the return of rejected asylum seekers and offers for voluntary return, said Mayer. This consonance also exists with better cooperation with non-EU countries and the strengthening of external border protection. In addition, not a single country has flatly rejected the proposals of the EU Commission.
EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson also praised the “constructive approach” of all EU states. She expected that “clear results” would be achieved under Portugal’s presidency in January.
During Germany’s EU Council Presidency, Interior Minister Seehofer wanted to reform the European asylum system. But success is not in sight. Some countries consider a proposal from the Commission unsustainable. Hardly any country moves.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer threatens to fail in his goal of achieving a breakthrough in the EU asylum reform that has been blocked for years. At the end of the German Presidency, the EU states are still far from a common line, as a confidential report by the German EU Council Presidency shows. As before, the main issue is whether all countries share responsibility for incoming migrants. On Monday, the EU interior ministers will again have consultations – substantial progress is not expected.
Seehofer knew that asylum and migration policy is one of the most difficult issues at EU level. Nevertheless, he repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to make significant progress. Many others have failed because of this. The EU Commission therefore presented new proposals in September to resolve the blockade. Seehofer wants to discuss this with his EU colleagues via video again on Monday. The basis should be the progress report of the German Council Presidency. The paper of 10 December shows that there can be no question of a “political agreement on the principles of European migration policy”.
No movement. Nowhere.
Much more, no country seems to be moving from its position. Hungary and Poland have long since made it clear that the Commission’s proposals are unsustainable for them. Even particularly polluted Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta perceive the proposals to be unbalanced. The conclusion of Malta’s Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo: “Despite the efforts of the German EU Council Presidency to advance the discussion on the EU Commission’s new migration pact from September, we are no closer to an agreement than in previous years.”
The paper of the German Council Presidency reads similarly. Opinions are divided, especially on the question of whether or not aid from other EU countries – by accepting repatriations or taking in migrants – should be mandatory in certain situations. “Some Member States currently see the need for a flexible mechanism, while others see compulsory relocation in particular as a key element of meaningful solidarity.” The old dispute – even if, according to the paper, all countries are committed to helping one another in the event of migration pressure or crisis. The details – how this help could look like – remain open.
Diplomat: It’s not up to Seehofer
According to the paper, Seehofer also did not get very far on another central point: the possible preliminary asylum review of migrants at the EU’s external borders, with the option of sending some people back from there. On the other hand, there is consensus on the need to increase returns, on issues of legal migration or the external dimension such as cooperation with non-EU countries.
However, the Corona crisis did not make things easy for Seehofer. The EU Commission presented its proposals because of the pandemic much later than planned. In addition, the interior ministers could only advise by video due to the corona. Seehofer himself always emphasized how important physical meetings are with such a delicate subject. An EU diplomat in Brussels emphasizes that the lack of progress is not Seehofer’s fault. “The problem is, nobody wants to move an inch.”