EU: Berlin is critical of plans for an asylum crisis regulation

Berlin is critical of plans for an asylum crisis regulation

A woman stands with her children in the Kara Tepe refugee camp near Mytilene on Lesvos. photo

© Panagiotis Balaskas/AP/dpa

The federal government has reservations about the proposal for a new EU asylum regulation, which is currently being negotiated. What’s it all about?

During the negotiations for the planned reform of the EU asylum policy looms new dispute. At the center of the controversy this time is a regulation that would allow overburdened member states to lower applicable standards for the registration and accommodation of asylum seekers in exceptional situations. The federal government is critical of the proposal, on which the Spanish EU Council Presidency wants to reach an agreement by the end of the month. “The proposed regulation is still subject to review within the federal government,” said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the German Press Agency on request.

On June 8, the EU interior ministers voted with a sufficiently large majority in favor of comprehensive reform plans. Asylum applications from migrants from countries of origin with a recognition rate of less than 20 percent are to be examined within twelve weeks at the EU’s external borders. During this time, they want to oblige those seeking protection to stay in strictly controlled reception facilities. Those who have no chance of asylum should be sent back immediately.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) had campaigned in the negotiations for families with children to be exempted from the so-called border procedures. In order to make the breakthrough possible, however, the federal government ultimately had to accept that this could be possible. It is conceivable that the EU Parliament will push through changes to this. Now the European Parliament and the EU states are negotiating the plans, and in the end Germany has to position itself again.

What’s in the proposal?

Among other things, the proposal for the new crisis regulation provides for longer deadlines for the registration of asylum applications at the external borders, as well as the possibility of lowering standards for accommodation and care. In addition, according to the Council’s ideas, those seeking protection in crisis situations should be obliged to stay longer than twelve weeks in the reception facilities near the border. For example, a situation in which another country “instrumentalizes” refugees, such as recently on the Belarusian-Polish border, should be considered a crisis situation.

“Since the federal government abstained from voting on the so-called instrumentalization regulation in December 2022, it is particularly critical of the regulations on instrumentalization situations contained in the crisis regulation,” said the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The federal government is involved in the negotiations in order to work towards improving the standards for those seeking protection and to achieve a uniform, manageable procedure for the member states in crisis situations.

“The interior minister only recently approved the problematic border procedures and thus the imprisonment of children and families,” said Green Party interior politician Julian Pahlke. He fears that if a crisis is declared, the border procedures could “practically be applied to almost all refugees”. “The crisis ordinance threatens to lead to more pushbacks, up to ten months in prison and further disenfranchisement of people seeking protection,” warned Pahlke. Pro Asyl called the planned regulation a “blank check for human rights violations at the external borders” of the European Union.

What concerns are there from EU countries?

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Spain, which took over the Council Presidency at the beginning of July, is trying to reach an agreement in the Council on the crisis regulation as soon as possible. A spokesman pointed out that the European Parliament also expects the Council to make significant progress on this legal act. During the negotiations on the crisis regulation, Germany is said to have demanded that the conditions for the application of the exceptional provisions by an EU member state have to be formulated more precisely than previously planned. Poland and Hungary, which had previously criticized the Council’s decisions of 8 June, also appear to have raised concerns. However, for other reasons: the proposed exemptions do not go far enough for them.

According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), around 150,000 people applied for asylum in Germany for the first time in the first half of this year. That was around 77 percent more initial applications than in the same period last year. War refugees from Ukraine receive protection under an EU directive and therefore do not have to apply for asylum.


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