These are the plans of the EU countries

Asylum procedures in the EU are to become stricter in the future. The EU interior ministers agreed on this in Luxembourg. An overview.

Breakthrough in the dispute over the right to asylum: The asylum procedures in the EU are to be tightened in view of the problems with illegal migration. At a meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday, a sufficiently large majority of member states voted in favor of comprehensive reform plans. In particular, they provide for a much more rigid approach to dealing with migrants with no prospects of staying. An overview:

Why is?

At least since the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016, it has been clear that the current asylum rules in the EU need to be revised. At that time, countries like Greece were overwhelmed with a mass influx of people from countries like Syria and hundreds of thousands were able to move on to other EU countries without registering. This actually shouldn’t have happened, because according to the so-called Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers should be registered where they first entered the European Union. This country is usually also responsible for the asylum application.

What should happen now?

The core of the reform proposals are measures that are intended to lead to a significant reduction in the influx of people without a right to protection.

  • Anyone entering the country from a country that is considered relatively safe – such as Morocco and Tunisia – could in future come to a strictly controlled reception facility under conditions similar to detention after crossing the border. Ideally, it would then be checked within twelve weeks whether the applicant has a chance of asylum – if not, he should be sent back immediately. In addition, the monitoring and deportation of rejected asylum seekers should be made easier, for example by collecting more data about them and storing them centrally.
  • In addition to the tightened asylum procedures, the plans decided on Thursday also provide for more solidarity with the heavily burdened member states at the EU’s external borders. In the future, it should no longer be voluntary, but mandatory. Countries that do not want to take in refugees would be forced to pay compensation. Countries like Hungary therefore voted against the plan.


How many people is it?

The number of asylum applications in the EU has recently increased significantly again after a decline during the corona pandemic. According to official figures, 881,200 initial applications were made in the 27 member states last year. Compared to the previous year, this means an increase of 64 percent. On average in the EU, not even every second application is approved.
A Syrian family is repatriated at a border crossing (archive photo): The EU wants people with no prospects to stay in the future to be treated much more rigidly. (Source: Matthias Balk/dpa)

Where are most migrants currently arriving?

Italy is particularly affected. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 50,000 migrants have already been registered there this year. Most of them came from Tunisia, Egypt and Bangladesh and therefore had almost no prospects of being able to stay legally.

What should happen in the future to those seeking protection who are given a chance of asylum when crossing the border?

According to the current plans, they would go through a normal procedure as before, i.e. usually in the member states at the EU’s external borders. However, when countries are confronted with a very large influx of people, they should be able to apply for support from other member states via a solidarity mechanism. A certain number of people seeking protection would then come to other countries via a distribution key. States that do not want to participate would have to make compensation payments for every person not admitted.

Why were the negotiations so difficult?

The reason for this was different interests and attitudes towards migration in the EU countries. Countries such as Italy, which are currently particularly hard hit by migration, only want to take on more responsibility for the procedures in their own country if they are guaranteed significantly more solidarity from other countries in return. Their leverage was the current situation, in which many migrants, having arrived from countries like Tunisia, can simply continue to other countries like Austria, Germany or France. Countries like Hungary, on the other hand, would like to close the EU’s external borders completely and not participate in the redistribution of refugees.

What about war refugees from Ukraine?

Because of a special regulation, people from Ukraine enjoy temporary protection in the EU without having to apply for asylum. For this reason, the discussions currently have no immediate significance for them.

What did the federal government want?

In the negotiations, the federal government had emphatically advocated that families with children be exempted from the so-called border procedures. In order to make the breakthrough possible, however, she ultimately had to accept that this could be possible. After the decision, however, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that the federal government, together with Portugal, Ireland and Luxembourg, will continue to advocate exceptions. It is also conceivable that the EU Parliament will push through changes. It has a say in the reform and will negotiate the project with representatives of the EU states in the coming months.


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