The EU wants to tighten the asylum rules – politics

The 27 interior ministers of the EU negotiated in Luxembourg for twelve hours, and what drove the members of the group as a whole – despite all the differences in detail – were two goals: reducing the number of refugees and achieving more fairness among the EU states . Critics, such as those found among the German Greens, complain that a third goal, a halfway humane admissions policy, has been deliberately abandoned. The asylum rules of the European Union have been drastically tightened, it is now said. But what does that mean in concrete terms? What is at the heart of the compromise negotiated in Luxembourg? What changes and what stays the same? The most important questions and answers.

What rules have the EU countries agreed on?

In the proponents’ reading, the agreement has two components: responsibility and solidarity. Responsibility means that the EU’s external borders should be better secured than before and that the asylum procedures should be accelerated as much as possible. Solidarity describes that in the future there should be fixed rules on how asylum seekers are to be distributed between the EU countries. Both components are aimed at relieving the southern EU countries in particular, i.e. Italy, Greece and Spain, where the majority of the refugees initially arrive.

The EU interior ministers are planning two laws, which will be abbreviated to APR (asylum procedure regulation) and AMMR (asylum and migration management regulations) to be discribed. The first law regulates the registration of refugees at the EU’s external borders. The second law aims to distribute asylum seekers across the individual EU states.

What is to happen at the EU’s external borders?

In future, all people who apply for protection in the EU are to be registered without exception at the place where they first set foot on European Union soil. This is often not the case at present, although it is actually intended to be so under the so-called Dublin Regulation. Many refugees are simply sent on by the authorities in the southern EU countries without registration – to those countries that are already among the preferred destination countries for refugees, for example Germany.

The EU interior ministers have also agreed to divide asylum seekers into two groups as soon as they arrive at the EU’s external border: The first group includes those who have a good chance of being granted asylum. They should go through a regular asylum procedure. The second group should include those whose chances of the asylum application being recognized are low from the outset. A new fast-track procedure is to be used for them.

Who is the Fast Track intended for?

The new procedure is intended for those refugees who, according to the EU, come from safe countries of origin, for example from the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. One criterion for which persons the fast-track procedure should be applied to is the previous recognition rate for the respective country of origin. If it is less than 20 percent, the fast-track procedure should take effect. However, the new EU asylum rules are to be introduced in stages. Initially, according to reports from Brussels, it is assumed that 30,000 people per year will be subjected to the new procedure. This is only a small part of the people arriving in Europe. Just over 880,000 initial applications for asylum were made in the EU last year.

How does the fast track process work?

Those affected have to wait for their asylum procedure to be processed under prison-like conditions. Strictly secured reception camps are planned, to which – contrary to what the federal government wanted – families with children will also have to go. Only fleeing minors are exempt. The fast-track procedure should last a maximum of twelve weeks, after which it will be clear whether someone will be granted asylum or not.

If the asylum application is rejected, the person in question should be deported – if possible within a further period of twelve weeks – directly from the camp. In the future, all available data should be recorded and stored centrally upon arrival in the EU, which is another important point of the agreement. The aim is to facilitate the return of rejected asylum seekers to suitable countries – the EU speaks of so-called safe third countries.

Who defines which countries are safe third countries?

The EU is supposed to draw up a list of such states, but member states can independently declare third countries safe. That’s how it’s been happening so far. Germany, for example, only lists Norway and Switzerland as safe third countries, Spain’s judiciary considers Morocco and most Latin American countries as such, Greece also considers Turkey for refugees from Syria and other countries – despite fears that the Turkish authorities could ship them to their persecuting countries.

What is new is that the EU is lowering the requirements by which third countries can be declared safe. In the future, this should also apply to parts of a country and to states that have not signed the Geneva Refugee Convention. Italy, for example, could, albeit by stretching the rules, declare parts of Libya a safe third country and send asylum seekers back there without examining the content of their applications. However, as before, the EU stipulates that there must be some link between the rejected asylum seeker and the country to which he is being sent back. The compromise envisages that the EU states can determine what the connection is – for example even a short-term transit.

How should the solidarity mechanism work?

Italy, Greece and Spain have to shoulder most of the asylum procedures, and little will change in the future. However, the southern EU countries have achieved an improvement: If the number of refugees increases so much that it is no longer possible to process the applications in an orderly manner, then the other EU countries will be obliged to help in the future. A number of people seeking protection, which is yet to be precisely determined, will be distributed across the entire EU using a key. Most recently, there was talk of 30,000 people a year.

However, there are countries like Poland and Hungary whose right-wing populist governments rigorously refuse to take in refugees. They can continue to do this – but in future they will have to pay money for their blockade. An amount of around 20,000 euros per refugee is in the room.

Are the Luxembourg decisions already binding?

No, they are not. The member states have agreed on principles for a joint asylum reform. One might call it historical, but in the legislative process in Brussels it is just one step of many. The Council of Member States has formally agreed on its position on two draft laws presented by the Commission. The European Parliament already did this in March. The trilogue can now begin, i.e. the final round of negotiations between the three EU institutions. Nothing is likely to change in the main features of the asylum reform. But in details – families in fast track, for example – there should still be heated debates. An agreement should be reached by the end of the year.

source site