A boat used by refugees from Morocco lies on a beach in the Canary Islands with the remains of protective vests
Photo: Javier Bauluz / AP
The European Union's asylum policy is deadlocked, and everyone was hoping for a breakthrough at the summit in Luxembourg. This now seems to have succeeded – the interior ministers of the EU have been able to agree on a common line. In Luxembourg, they agreed to a compromise proposal from the Swedish Presidency at the third attempt, as Sweden's Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard said. She spoke of "great approval" for the two bills.
Asylum procedures in the EU are to be significantly tightened in view of the problems with illegal migration. In the future, people arriving from countries considered safe will be accommodated in strictly controlled reception facilities under conditions similar to those of detention after crossing the border. There, it would normally be checked within twelve weeks whether the applicant has a chance of asylum. If not, it should be returned immediately.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) called the agreement "historic". On Twitter, she wrote: "This is a historic success – for the European Union, for a new, solidarity-based migration policy and for the protection of human rights."
Germany was unable to prevail with its demand for humanitarian exemptions from the controversial border procedures for families with children. In the subsequent negotiations between the EU countries and the European Parliament, the German government wants to continue to work for this, according to Faeser.
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 EU countries in the coming months.
Solidarity with heavily burdened EU states should be mandatory
In addition to the tightened asylum procedures, the plans adopted on Thursday also provide for more solidarity with the heavily burdened member states at the EU's external borders. In the future, it will no longer be voluntary, but mandatory. Countries that do not want to take in refugees would be forced to pay compensation. Countries such as Hungary voted against the plan.
Countries such as Italy, for example, could benefit from the duty of solidarity. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 50,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean have already been registered in Italy this year. Most of them came from Tunisia, Egypt and Bangladesh and thus had virtually no prospect of a legal prospect of staying.
Ideally, the remaining negotiations with the EU Parliament should be concluded before the end of the year. Then the laws could be passed before the European elections in June 2024. If this does not succeed, a change in the political balance of power could necessitate renegotiations.