The Greens wanted to push through a project in the EU asylum reform. But the federal government has now sacrificed that for a compromise. That might be uncomfortable.
The EU has agreed on an asylum reform. Good news at first glance: It has been clear since at least 2015 that the international community must overhaul its rules for the asylum system. But there is – at least from the point of view of the German government – a big but. And that is now becoming a problem, especially for the Greens.
As difficult as the negotiations in the EU turned out to be, the Greens definitely wanted to push through one project: Anyone who is a minor, including their parents, should not end up in prison-like conditions at the border. The Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in particular campaigned for this – and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) took this as one of the two central German demands to the negotiations in Luxembourg.
But nothing came of it. In order to find a compromise, the federal government gave up its position. The FDP should be happy about that. Even before the summit, the party had advocated overturning this position in order to reach an agreement at EU level.
Agreement at what price?
For the Greens, the question will now be: at what price? Because minors in detention camps, that was the red line – drawn by human rights groups, asylum lawyers, but also by the green base and members of the Bundestag from the Greens and SPD. “Underage refugees and their parents must not be involved in such a border procedure,” said an open letter signed by younger politicians from the Greens and SPD in particular before the EU negotiations.
In the evening, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tried to limit the damage: “To be honest, if we as the federal government could have decided on the reform on our own, it would have looked different,” she wrote in a statement. “But honesty also means that anyone who thinks this compromise is unacceptable will accept that no one will be distributed in the future.” That may be true, because Germany was almost alone in the EU with its liberal demands.
And yet the red line has been crossed. Even before the meeting in Brussels, party members were hoping that at least this one demand would find its way into the reform. But if Baerbock speculated on party discipline, she has now been disappointed.
While party leader Omnid Nouripour spoke of a difficult but necessary step, his co-boss Ricarda Lang said: Germany should not have agreed to this compromise. The federal spokeswoman for the Green Youth found even clearer words: she was stunned, said Sarah-Lee Heinrich. And the Greens member of the Bundestag Jamila Schäfer said t-online: “This agreement is a perpetuation of suffering and chaos”. It’s getting really uncomfortable for the Greens.