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Europe Disagree On Asylum Reform


Female refugees carry sand in Aroa camp, Uganda. (Photo: Ninno JackJr)

Germany wanted to resolve the asylum dispute during its EU presidency. But the distribution of refugees is still unresolved.

Even under the German Presidency, the EU states have not been able to decisively advance important parts of the asylum reform. The contentious question of the distribution of migrants seeking protection in Europe, for example, remains unresolved despite the efforts of Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. There are different views on how "in concrete terms, solidarity between the European member states should take place" when a country is overloaded, said Germany's Parliamentary State Secretary of the Interior Ministry Stephan Mayer before a video conference of the EU interior ministers.

In September Seehofer was still confident

With a view to the issue of migration, Mr. Mayer endeavored to draw a positive conclusion from the German EU Council Presidency. One is significantly further than six months ago. In September Germany was confident that  it would be able to reach a political agreement on the principles of European migration policy by the end of this year.

EU states rely on processing applications from asylum seekers in camps at the EU borders
sending as many people as possible back to their countries of origin.

The German Council Presidency has now recorded the results of the negotiations in a progress report that was due to be presented on Monday. The paper that was made available to the German Press Agency clearly showed that there was no solution in sight in the central points. "Some Member States currently see the need for a flexible mechanism, while others see compulsory relocation in particular as a key element of meaningful solidarity", the author of the paper stated.

The EU countries have been divided on this issue for years. A reform of asylum policy is therefore not making progress. In essence, it is about whether and how migrants should be distributed. In the current system, the southern countries in particular, where many refugees arrive, see themselves burdened. To solve the issue, the EU Commission presented new reform proposals in September. However, these apparently did not bring the breakthrough.

Pro Asylum sees the right to asylum at risk

There is a "harmony of interests", for example when it comes to the return of rejected asylum seekers and offers for voluntary return, said Mayer. This consonance also exists with better cooperation with non-EU countries and the strengthening of external border protection.

The human rights organization Pro Asyl fears that the EU is undermining the right to asylum in Europe. No head of government and no head of government in the EU vigorously defends the human right to asylum, said Pro-Asylum Director Günter Burkhardt.

Rather, the EU states rely on processing applications from asylum seekers in camps at the EU borders and sending as many people as possible back to their countries of origin or so-called safe third countries.


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