Tightening of asylum law: Traffic light politicians rebel against migration policy

Interior Minister Faeser supports the planned tightening of EU asylum law. But the Greens and the SPD are resisting: Critics warn of “prison-like conditions” at the external borders.

If you follow the words of Nancy Faeser, it’s about nothing less than freedom in Europe. The interior minister recently warned in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that the Schengen area is in serious danger. And with it one of the greatest achievements of the EU: the freedom to travel without identity checks. The SPD politician believes that illegal migration is in danger.

Faeser is therefore convinced that the EU must quickly manage to reliably control the external borders. Together with the other interior ministers of the international community, she will discuss tightening the asylum policy on Thursday – and is pushing for an agreement. The most important change: migrants who have little chance of a right to stay should already go through a fast-track procedure at the borders, so if in doubt they should not even enter the EU.

The course taken by the federal government is highly controversial, even among its own people. How much is evident these days. Not only human rights groups are up in arms against the reform. There is also criticism from traffic light politicians. The FDP and the Greens are fighting each other again. And Faeser also becomes a target, even in her own party.

The coalition agreement also promised a turnaround, a turning away from the left-liberal traffic light and the conservative gesture of deterrence. The “progress coalition” had written into the program that they wanted to work to improve the protection of asylum seekers throughout Europe. But the reform, as many in the Greens and SPD see it, threatens to make the situation at the borders even worse. More deterrence and suffering instead of more humanity.

Basis sees principles of the party in danger

The Greens in particular are rumbling. On Monday evening, a sensitive letter landed in the mailboxes of top people around Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock. It was intended as an internal document, but quickly found its way into the press. Within days, 730 members had signed it, most of them from the party base.

The signatories see nothing less than the party’s principles in jeopardy. “We are facing the most serious tightening of asylum law in the past 30 years,” the initiators of the letter said in the preface. “If we see ourselves as a human rights party, then we have to make it clear now what that means for us.” They call on their top people to work “to ensure that populism is not cast in law”.

Annalena Baerbock: Your Foreign Ministry is also involved in the negotiations on the reform in Brussels. (Source: IMAGO/Sem van der Wal)

Opinions differ on how to understand this letter. Some see it as clear criticism of their own people. Others want the letter to be understood more as a boost for them in the federal government.

One way or another, the letter remains a clear sign of dissatisfaction with the planned reform. And so far, the green management team has basically backed the EU’s plans.

“Massive deterioration of the status quo”

A Green who is angry is Svenja Borgschulte. She is spokeswoman for the Federal Working Group on Migration and Flight. The circle in which the Greens negotiate their party’s positions on refugee policy in a grassroots-democratic manner.

Borgschulte says: “It is not without reason that these inhumane proposals are very popular in the right-wing camp – and with Federal Interior Minister Faeser, who is carrying out her Hesse election campaign on the backs of people seeking protection.” She calls on the Green ministers to “reject these plans so that Germany in Brussels does not agree to an erosion of the right to asylum”.

It’s a call to blockade. Because Borgschulte is convinced that the reform would only make things worse: “The asylum procedure regulation being discussed in the EU means a massive deterioration in the status quo.”


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