Activists of the civilian sea rescue organization SOS Humanity are campaigning for a European-coordinated sea rescue of refugees from the Mediterranean. © Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa
More refugees and irregular migrants are arriving in Germany and Europe. Against this background, the European asylum system, which is functioning poorly, is to be reformed.
Berlin/Brussels - In the run-up to a possible agreement between the EU member states on a common European asylum policy, both supporters and opponents of the reform plans have once again vehemently tried to influence the German government.
The FDP migration politician Ann-Veruschka Jurisch campaigned for the reform the day before the decisive meeting. "As much as there is a right to asylum and due process of law and must be protected, there is no unrestricted right of entry and reception in the EU and in Germany," the Bundestag member said on Wednesday. "The German government supports the proposals for a massive tightening of EU asylum law, although they are diametrically opposed to the coalition agreement," criticized MP Clara Bünger (Left).
The EU interior ministers will meet this Thursday in Luxembourg to discuss the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which has been controversial for years. Among other things, it is about whether there should be preliminary examinations of asylum applications at the EU's external borders. The German government wants to ensure that minors under the age of 18 and families with children are exempted from these procedures.
Most asylum seekers from three countries
According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), 125,556 people applied for asylum for the first time in the first five months of this year. That was almost 77 percent more than in the same period last year. Most of those seeking protection came from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Meanwhile, SOS Humanity activists protested in front of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin. The representatives of the organization, which rescues boat migrants in distress at sea in the Mediterranean, submitted a petition calling on the German government to initiate a coordinated European rescue program. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) should oppose "the trend of devaluation of European fundamental and human rights and the erosion of the principles of the rule of law" and not support the planned reform.
The German County Council spoke out in favour of the planned changes. The president of the municipal umbrella association, Reinhard Sager (CDU), told the newspapers of the Funke media group: "We are strengthening the back of the Federal Minister of the Interior with the aim of achieving a fairer burden-bearing between the member states within the EU and limiting irregular migration."
Not compatible with human rights obligations?
The executive director of the UN Children's Fund Unicef in Germany, Christian Schneider, said it was "an important step that the German government wants to make a strong case at EU level to exempt all children seeking protection within the meaning of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, whether in family or unaccompanied conditions, from the planned border procedures". The German Institute for Human Rights warned: "A system that primarily relies on deterrence and the outsourcing of asylum examinations to the external borders or to supposedly safe third countries outside the EU is not compatible with Germany's refugee and human rights obligations."
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Juso chairman Jessica Rosenthal said of the plans for these proceedings, which are to be completed within a few weeks: "So I don't think much of it, because I'm quite sure that it will come to prison-like conditions, that there will be human rights violations," she said on Deutschlandfunk.
Commenting on the demand by the Greens and the SPD to exempt minors between the ages of 12 and 17 from the planned border procedures, EPP leader Manfred Weber said: "This encourages smugglers to target families and younger people because they have a de facto guarantee that they can stay in Europe." This would not protect young people, but would be increasingly endangered, warned the CSU politician in the "Rheinische Post".
Migration researchers in Germany criticized the reform plans. "The major reform will deepen the migration policy crisis and divide Europe," said Bernd Kasparek of the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM). Therefore, from the scientists' point of view, it would be better to let the negotiations fail now. They proposed a kind of European asylum agency. This could bring refugees and host countries together with a matching system. Member States could formulate their interests and requirements, and asylum seekers could indicate their wishes and existing social links to European countries. Dpa