No asylum checks for minors at EU borders
In the coming week, the EU interior ministers will discuss possible asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders. The federal government wants there to be exceptions for minors and families with children.
According to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Federal Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus, the Federal Government wants to support exceptions for minors and families in the ongoing EU negotiations on new common asylum rules. The traffic light government has 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,” said Paus (Greens) of the German Press Agency.
Negotiations are tough in Brussels “to ensure that no one gets stuck in border procedures for more than a few weeks, that families with children do not get caught up in border procedures, that the right to asylum is not fundamentally undermined,” Baerbock told the Funke media group’s newspapers .
The EU interior ministers will discuss the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which has been controversial for years, next Thursday in Luxembourg. The EU states are currently trying to agree on the main features of a reform. Among other things, it is about the question of whether there should be preliminary checks on asylum applications at the European external borders.
Baerbock: Asylum procedures at borders “curse and opportunity at the same time”
Baerbock called asylum procedures at the borders “both a curse and an opportunity”. “Border procedures are highly problematic because they interfere with civil liberties.” But the EU Commission’s proposal is the only realistic chance of achieving an “orderly and humane distribution process” in an EU of 27 very different countries in the foreseeable future. The line is very thin, critical questions are important.
“But even inaction would have bitter consequences,” warned the Green politician. Without a common European response, the trend is already everywhere towards “more isolation, more pushbacks, more fences”. And without order at the external borders, it is only a matter of time before one EU country after another starts talking about internal border controls again.
In the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”, FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr spoke out in favor of including minors in such preliminary asylum checks at the borders. “At first glance, I don’t understand why there should be rigid age limits. Uniform rules are needed, and these can also apply to under-18s,” he said.
Paus refused: “Sending children under the age of 18 in border procedures and thus in a highly precarious situation would mean an enormous threat to the well-being of the child.” The family minister spoke of the risk of renewed traumatization.
Increased numbers and changes in EU asylum policy
The background to the consultations are the increased numbers. For months, many people have been trying to reach southern Italy from North Africa via the dangerous Mediterranean route. According to information from Rome, more than 50,000 migrants have come to Italy on boats since January. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 980 people have died or have been missing since the beginning of the year. In Germany, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees received a good 100,000 initial asylum applications in the first four months of this year, an increase of around 78 percent compared to the previous year.
At the beginning of May, the federal government announced changes in the EU asylum policy. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) had spoken about procedures at the borders in connection with negotiations in Brussels. “Then rejected asylum seekers can be quickly returned from the EU’s external borders,” she told the “Handelsblatt”.
The head of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, defended the idea: the state must decide who comes to Europe and not the gangs of people smugglers, the CSU politician told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. At the same time, Weber spoke out in favor of the Federal Police sending ships into the Mediterranean Sea to rescue people in distress. “I would like Europe to assume joint responsibility again, as we did before.”