Migration: Stricter EU asylum rules finally decided

Migration: Stricter EU asylum rules finally decided

Less than a month before the European elections, EU countries are voting for stricter rules on asylum law. The Chancellor speaks of a historic agreement. But there are doubts about its effectiveness.

After years of dispute, the EU member states have finally approved stricter asylum law regulations. The Council of Ministers adopted the reform plans in Brussels. Key elements include rapid asylum procedures at the external borders and support for the EU states where particularly large numbers of migrants arrive.

The confirmation by the Council of the European Union was the last necessary step for the reform. Among other things, uniform procedures are now required at the external borders so that it can be quickly determined whether asylum applications are unfounded and refugees can then be deported more quickly and directly from the external border. Asylum requests from people from countries of origin with an EU-wide recognition rate of less than 20 percent should already be examined in reception camps at the external borders. This could apply to migrants from Morocco, Tunisia or Bangladesh.

Reform has been discussed for years

Intensive work has been underway on asylum reform since 2015 and 2016. At that time, countries in southern Europe such as Greece were overwhelmed by the large number of people arriving from countries such as Syria. Hundreds of thousands came to other EU countries unregistered. This actually shouldn’t have happened, because according to the so-called Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers should go through their process where they first entered the European Union.

What should apply in the future

In particular, the reform introduces significantly tougher treatment of people from countries that are considered relatively safe. A third country can only be classified as safe if a strict list of criteria is met. For example, the life and freedom of the applicant must be guaranteed.

The distribution of those seeking protection among the EU states will also be reorganized using a “solidarity mechanism”. This is intended to relieve the burden on those countries where many refugees arrive – for example Italy, Greece or Spain. It is planned that at least 30,000 refugees from these countries will be redistributed to other EU countries every year. If countries do not want to accept refugees, they must provide support, for example in the form of cash payments.

Why the new regulations are controversial

There had previously been massive criticism of the reform, among other things because families with children could also end up in the strictly controlled reception camps. The federal government and the European Parliament tried to prevent this, but failed in the final negotiations due to resistance from countries like Italy.

There was also criticism that rejected asylum seekers could be more easily deported to safe third countries in the future. Because with the agreement, more third countries can now be classified as safe, this also applies to mere sub-areas of states. National assessments can also be the basis for this.

How it goes on

The European Parliament had previously approved the reform plans. Once confirmed by EU countries, they will now be published in the Official Journal and will come into force 20 days later. According to the information, member states have two years after entry into force to implement it into national law. This should give the countries at the external borders enough time to create appropriate facilities to accommodate people from countries with a recognition rate of less than 20 percent.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) announced weeks ago that Germany would “make the necessary adjustments much more quickly.” The SPD politician hopes that the reform will relieve pressure on German borders and thus also on local authorities in this country. Across Europe, most asylum applications are made in Germany.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke of a “truly historic” EU agreement. “We now have a much better basis in the EU: for a humane limitation of irregular migration. For reliable registrations at the borders. For a solidarity-based approach that will also relieve the burden on countries like Germany and Sweden.”

Police union: migration pressure will remain high

The German police union, however, is skeptical. “The migration pressure to Europe and especially to Germany will remain high,” said the union’s chairman, Heiko Teggatz, when asked by the German Press Agency. “As long as Germany in particular does not immediately reduce or abolish the incentives to migrate to Germany, people will continue to try to enter Germany illegally.”

According to him, consistent rejections are needed at the EU’s external borders. Otherwise, the federal police would have to carry out these checks at the German borders. “Stopping border controls now would be a fatal mistake in terms of security policy,” added Teggatz.

Source: Stern

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