Brussels: Federal government is coming under pressure over migration policy

Brussels: Federal government is coming under pressure over migration policy

Dissatisfaction with the federal government’s course is growing in Brussels. Before a meeting of interior ministers, clear words are spoken in the background. Will the German Greens be pressured into making concessions again?

The federal government is coming under increasing pressure from European partners because of its rejection of proposals for the planned reform of the EU asylum system. Berlin’s position is largely responsible for the fact that necessary negotiations with the European Parliament are currently blocked, several diplomats and EU officials told the German Press Agency before a meeting of interior ministers this Thursday.

If there is to be a chance of passing asylum reform before the European elections, the federal government must move and agree to the proposal for the so-called crisis regulation.

The German Greens in particular are coming under pressure. They are considered crucial for the federal government’s previously unyielding positioning.

The dispute is specifically about the fact that the government made up of the SPD, Greens and FDP did not want to support a proposal from the Spanish EU Council Presidency for the crisis regulation in July. The EU states were therefore unable to position themselves for negotiations with the European Parliament.

Berlin justified this in Brussels in particular by saying that the regulation would give EU states the opportunity to lower the protection standards for these people to an unacceptable extent if there was a particularly large influx of migrants.

In crisis situations, for example, it should be possible to extend the period during which people can be held in prison-like conditions. In addition, the circle of people who are eligible for the planned strict border procedures could be increased.

Parliament puts pressure on the blockade

Angered by the deadlock, the European Parliament announced last week that it would block other parts of the negotiations on the planned asylum reform until further notice. The delays are particularly explosive because of the approaching European elections in June 2024. Projects that have not been negotiated with the governments of the member states by then could then be called into question again and be delayed for a long time.

In the case of the planned reform of the asylum system, this would be a particularly big setback. The project has been in the works for years. It is also intended to help limit illegal migration and is therefore likely to play a role in upcoming elections in the member states and the European elections. Right-wing parties in particular, such as the AfD, have long accused the EU of failing in the fight against illegal migration.

Will the whole asylum package collapse?

A quick settlement in the dispute is not in sight. A diplomat told the dpa that southern EU states only accepted other parts of the planned reform because they were sure that in return they would get more flexibility in crisis situations. If this is now called into question, the whole package could collapse.

In addition to the rules for crisis situations, this includes that in the future, initial reception states should examine asylum applications from migrants from countries of origin with a recognition rate of less than 20 percent within twelve weeks. During this time, those seeking protection will be obliged to stay in strictly controlled reception facilities. Anyone who has no chance of asylum should be sent back immediately.

Baerbock’s statements cause discussions

There is a lack of understanding about Germany’s position in particular because, according to the current proposal, the standard rules should not be relaxed automatically, but only after the approval of the Council of Member States and under strict supervision of the EU Commission. Even in a crisis situation, there are still a number of control options to prevent misuse.

It is therefore seen as a possible political maneuver before the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse that German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock surprisingly explained the federal government’s stance at the weekend no longer with human rights concerns, but with the risk of an even larger influx of migrants to Germany.

The Green politician wrote on the short message service

She also criticized the idea of ​​”postponing” an additional crisis regulation, threatening to destroy new orderly procedures “through the back door” – even though the EU Commission’s basic proposal for this has been on the table since September 2020.

Qualified majority without Germany?

It is now eagerly awaited to see whether dissatisfaction with the federal government will be expressed in front of cameras at the interior ministers’ meeting and whether this might then lead to new discussions within the coalition. The argument against this is that with the plans agreed in June to tighten up the regular asylum procedures, the Greens accepted things that they actually did not want to accept and that there were subsequently heated discussions within the party about the approval.

For Germany, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), who is currently the top candidate for the Hessian SPD in the state elections on October 8th, is expected to attend the EU consultations in Brussels. She has not yet commented publicly on possible compromises.

The CSU European politician and head of the Christian Democratic European party family, Manfred Weber, recently criticized this sharply. “I wonder whether the federal government has recognized the seriousness of the situation and really wants the EU asylum reform,” he recently told the “Tagesspiegel”.

Perhaps the only face-saving solution for the federal government would be if the Spanish EU Council Presidency could organize the necessary qualified majority for the crisis regulation without Germany. However, it was recently considered extremely unlikely that this would succeed because other opponents consider the Spanish proposal to be too weak and would like even more freedom in the event of a mass influx of migrants. These include Poland, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Source: Stern

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