Brussels is looking for a solution: What awaits asylum seekers at the EU's external borders in the future? (archive image) © IMAGO / NurPhoto
For years, the EU has been struggling for a new asylum law. A decisive step is to be taken in June. From the FDP comes criticism of the proposals.
Berlin – The traffic light government is apparently in agreement for once. And according to its own statements, it is going into the upcoming consultations on the planned EU asylum reform with a demand. The Tagesspiegel quoted a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Nancy Faeser (SPD), as saying: "The federal government is committed to exempting children and young people as well as families with children from the border procedures."
In essence, the adaptation of the asylum law laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is about the fact that in future it should be decided at the EU's external borders whether asylum seekers are allowed to enter. The corresponding procedures are to be accelerated, which, according to ARD's "Deutschlandtrend" in May, 79 percent of respondents supported. Only eleven percent considered this approach to be wrong.
EU wrestles over asylum reform: Meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg to set the tone
Rejected asylum seekers are to be granted short appeal periods without suspensive effect, and repatriations are to take place quickly, according to the plan from Brussels. On 8 June, the EU interior ministers will meet in Luxembourg, and the agenda will also include "the Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management and the Asylum Procedure Code". In the same month, the Council is expected to agree on a path before the EU Parliament is sent on track.
It remains to be seen whether the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which has been planned since 2020, will be adopted as planned by the end of the legislative period next spring. To make matters worse, new elections are just around the corner in Spain and Greece. Commenting on the upcoming election campaign on the Iberian Peninsula, Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, told Der Spiegel: "This will make it much more difficult to find a compromise in the EU.
The spokesman for the Faeser House at least declared that migration should be "sustainably ordered and controlled" at the European level. With the "common position" on which the SPD, Greens and FDP have agreed, the negotiations should be started.
Is the EU asylum reform coming? Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is to make an exemption palatable to her counterparts. © IMAGO / Sven Simon
Asylum law in the EU: Greens want exemptions for children and young people under the age of 18
Originally, the EU Commission had only proposed exemptions for children under the age of twelve. The expansion, which the traffic light now wants to stimulate, is likely to have been brought into play by the Greens. In an interview with the German Press Agency (dpa), Lisa Paus emphasized: "As Minister for Family Affairs and Children, I very much support the fact that we in the Federal Government have jointly agreed to generally exclude families with children under the age of 18 and all unaccompanied minors from the planned asylum procedures at the EU borders."
At the same time, she also explained the background: "Sending children under the age of 18 to border proceedings and thus into a highly precarious situation would mean an enormous risk to the well-being of the child." Paus also sees the risk of re-traumatization.
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Her party colleague Annalena Baerbock called the border procedures themselves "highly problematic because they interfere with civil liberties" to the newspapers of the Funke media group. At the same time, the Foreign Minister made it clear that it must be ensured "that no one is stuck in the border procedure for more than a few weeks, that families with children do not come to the border procedure, that the right to asylum is not undermined in essence".
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CDU against asylum plan of the traffic light: Frei sees further softening - "weakens the approach"
Criticism of the traffic light plan put it from the opposition. According to Thorsten Frei, parliamentary secretary of the CDU parliamentary group, the government is in the process of "further softening the EU Commission's proposal in various places". He also complained in the Tagesspiegel: "If families are exempted from the procedures at the external borders, this weakens the approach." Rather, their needs must be taken into account in the proceedings themselves.
However, it is doubtful whether the coalition parties are really as united as Faeser's spokesman portrays it. At least parts of the FDP feel less picked up. Bundestag group leader Christian Dürr confessed in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that he "understands the French position of allowing minors to go through fast-track procedures in the asylum centres." For him, uniform rules are necessary, "and these can also apply to under-18s".
FDP Secretary-General Bijan Djir-Sarai insisted in the Tagesspiegel on a "humane care of all refugees and an efficient implementation of asylum procedures at the EU's external borders". But this also means: "If these rules apply, then there is no need for a debate on possible exceptions that would only jeopardize an agreement in Europe." Rather, he gives hope for an EU-wide agreement, because an understanding may be "closer than ever before".
They have open arms for refugees: demonstrators in the Hanseatic city of Demmin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are leading the way. © IMAGO / BildFunkMV
EU works on asylum reform: Green politician sees "extremely difficult" negotiations
Britta Haßelmann, on the other hand, sees things quite differently. The Green group leader expects "extremely difficult" negotiations in Brussels, as she told the Funke newspapers. She saw rather big differences and promised: "Many EU member states take a restrictive line and want to make the Commission's proposal even more restrictive. That's where we stand against it."
Even if the three from the traffic light could really agree on a common denominator this time, there is probably still a lot of convincing to be done among the EU partners. Not to mention agreements with the countries of origin of rejected asylum seekers, who often stand in the way. And it remains to be seen how much the newly re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still feels bound by the so-called "refugee deal" agreed in 2016. (mg)