EPP boss Weber calls for a change of course in EU migration policy
Wars and conflicts drive many people from their homes – also to Europe. How should the EU deal with them? Before the EU special summit on migration, Manfred Weber is pushing for a rethink.
The head of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, has called for fundamental corrections in refugee policy. “The EU states are sleepwalking into a new, major migration crisis,” said the deputy CSU chairman to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
“The municipalities groan, the capacity for migrants via the Mediterranean routes is exhausted.” Before the EU special summit on migration on February 9th and 10th, Weber proposed fences at the external borders, asylum applications outside the EU and a new edition of European sea rescue.
“Fences must be conceivable”
“Fences are always the last resort, but we need them wherever gangs of people smugglers successfully try to circumvent European law,” said Weber. “If there is no other technical way to prevent illegal migration, then fences must be conceivable.” As examples he named the EU’s eastern border, the Mediterranean region and the border between Bulgaria and Greece and Turkey.
Weber also demands “substantial changes in the asylum procedure”. These do not necessarily have to take place in the EU. “There must be at least one quick check at the EU’s external borders to see who has a chance of asylum,” he suggested. If migrants arrive from safe third countries such as Turkey, then the first procedural steps could also take place there on foreign territory. Weber suggested EU offices in Tunisia or Egypt, for example, where people from Africa can apply for asylum in Europe.
Weber is also pushing for changes in sea rescue. With all due respect for the commitment of civil society, sea rescue is also a sovereign task of the state in the Mediterranean. “We must therefore examine the relaunch of an EU mission in the Mediterranean,” Weber demanded, emphasizing: “We want to save lives, but we must not privatize it.”
“Take ammunition from right-wing agitators”
Now all heads of government must deliver, including Germany and Austria as important receiving countries, Weber demanded of the next EU summit. “That would also be important with a view to the 2024 European elections, in order to take the ammunition out of right-wing agitators.”
The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz called for Germany to control migration more closely. “When it comes to immigration, we have to make a clear distinction: Who do we need? And who needs us?” Merz told the “Bild am Sonntag”. The right of asylum applies. “Anyone who has no right to asylum has to leave the country again. Our guiding principle is: humanity and order. Those are two sides of the same coin.” On the other hand, Germany needs more immigration into the labor market, emphasized the CDU leader. “It has to be well organized and, of course, linked to a sincere welcoming culture.”