After the 27 EU states were unable to agree on a uniform set of rules for the distribution of persons entitled to protection and the deportation of rejected persons, the CDU and CSU now want above all to prevent secondary migration within Europe. Translated: the independent onward movement of people seeking protection. According to Frei, Germany is particularly affected by this in Europe.
The underlying concern is that a particularly large number of protection seekers who have made it as far as the EU may want to come to Germany because they hope to receive the highest social benefits here. More than 40 percent of the migrants who have come to Europe since 2015 have been accepted in Germany, Frei said.
A total of 69,170 initial asylum applications were filed from January to November this year, a spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry said. That was 33.5 percent fewer than in the same period last year. A major reason for the decline is likely the global Corona pandemic.
Lower standards for protection seekers?
How the independent onward movement of protection seekers within Europe could be prevented in the future is, however, controversial. If the CDU and CSU have their way, there would have to be consequences. In concrete terms, asylum procedures and social benefits should only be available in the EU country to which the protection seeker is assigned. Anyone who nevertheless travels to Germany of their own free will should not receive any social benefits in this country, according to the CDU/CSU’s interior expert.
Gerald Knaus of the think tank “European Stability Initiative” disagrees: Germany would not allow its standards for protection seekers to be lowered by German courts. And it would lead to conditions like those in France in recent years, where people came anyway and then lived on the streets under inhumane conditions. That would not be compatible with German law.
The migration researcher’s counter-proposal: the Germans should not lower standards in their own country, but should use pressure to ensure that standards in other EU countries rise. “There is no reason for recognized refugees in Greece to end up on the streets despite billions in EU aid. And that’s where Germany has a legitimate interest in preventing that,” Knaus said. In other words, the money that Greece receives from the EU, for example, must be tied to conditions that guarantee human rights standards.
If the conditions in other EU countries improved, German courts would also allow repatriations and, as a result, fewer protection seekers would travel on to Germany.
Luise Amtsberg, the migration policy spokeswoman of the Green Party, takes a similar view. Currently, protection seekers are trying to escape from miserable conditions in Greece. This is another reason for secondary migration.
EU countries willing to take in refugees are rare
However, Knaus admits that the number of EU countries that are committed to a humane policy similar to Germany’s is stagnating. Some governments, such as Hungary or Austria, do not want to take in a single refugee – “not even a sick child,” Knaus says.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has clearly felt the attitude of many EU countries. After the fire in the Greek camp of Moria on Lesbos, his staff made phone calls to colleagues in other EU capitals and collected many refusals. The majority refused. Even Luxembourg, which likes to present itself as a “beacon of humanity,” wanted to take in very few people, Seehofer told ARD’s capital city studio at the time. Only about a dozen agreed to take in the refugees.
According to Green Party politician Amtsberg, the federal government has a special responsibility in this regard. The Greens are also saddened that so few member states are willing to help. But that should not stop Germany from going ahead and taking in generous quotas. In case of doubt, this should only be done with a small “coalition of the willing” within the EU. However, when it comes to the details, the Green politician is reticent. Amtsberg does not want to commit to a specific number.
Shortly before the end of the year, a large number of refugees on Lesbos wrote a “Christmas letter” to the European public. In it, they harshly criticize the EU and the devastating conditions in the new camp. “Even animals have more rights and better living conditions in the EU than we do. Every day we live in fear and hardship,” reads the letter, which is available to SWR.
Those who are sick have to wait several hours in the cold for medical treatment, there is still a lack of heating, electricity, water and protection from floods, the people report. In some cases, the situation is even worse than before the fire in Moria, they say. The letter is to be handed over to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today and published by the aid organization medico international.
Demand for self-organization and appreciation
Behind the letter are almost 5000 of the more than 7000 refugees living in the Kara Tepe transitional camp. The call was initiated by 45-year-old Syrian engineer Raed al-Obeed and 30-year-old pharmacist Omid Deen Mohammed from Afghanistan. The two men, along with many other refugees in the burned-down Moria camp, had already ensured that children received lessons, that garbage collection worked and that refugees were educated about the coronavirus. “In the new camp, this is no longer possible, yet we have proven in the past that we can do this,” the letter says.
“Should we wait until we die, or are we finally allowed to take care of ourselves, if the EU already doesn’t?” asks al-Obeed rhetorically in an interview with SWR. Finally being taken seriously as a partner and being included in decisions is therefore the central demand of the refugees in the camp to the EU.
by Xavier Cuesta – European Correspondent – RN