Germany May Deport Refugees to EU States with Poor Living Conditions, EU Court Rules
The ECJ is based on the cases of migrants who came to Germany through other EU states: a Gambian man who entered the EU in Italy, Palestinians through Bulgaria, and a Chechen Russian national through Poland.
Germany and other EU member states are entitled to deport asylum seekers to other EU member states if even the living conditions for them there might be of inferior quality, the European Court of Justice has ruled.
Deportation from one member state to the member state which first granted protection to the respective asylum seekers is in order unless the living conditions in the latter are extremely severe, decided the EU’s highest court.
“EU law does not preclude the transfer of an applicant for international protection to the Member State responsible or the rejection of an application for the grant of refugee status as being inadmissible on the ground that the applicant has been previously granted subsidiary protection by another Member State, unless it is established that the applicant would, in that other Member State, be in a situation of extreme material poverty,” the Luxembourg-based judicial body stated in its ruling.
The ECJ ruling was issued after the EU’s top court was asked by a German court to interpret the Dublin III Regulation in the case of Abubacarr Jawo, a migrant from Gambia who arrived on EU soil in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean.
Jawo later went Germany, and then fought in court an attempt by the German authorities to send him back to Italy on the grounds of the poor conditions for asylum seekers there.
Another relevant case to the ECJ ruling on sending migrants back to the member states where they first set foot on EU soil are The Ibrahim and Others cases, involving stateless Palestinians from Syrian being granted protection in Bulgaria and a Russian national from Chechnya being granted protection in Poland.
Germany, located in the geographic center of the European Union, has been the prime destination for Middle Eastern and African migrants, including since the 2015 migrant crisis when German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared a controversial open door policy supposedly for refugees from the Syrian Civil War.
Some 1.6 million migrants from the Middle East and Africa have arrived in Germany ever since, according to some estimates.
As the domestic political backlash against Merkel’s initial welcoming policy grew, Germany has been seeking to return migrants to the EU countries where they first entered the Union. In 2018, Germany even managed to strike bilateral agreements for sending back migrants with “border” EU states such as Greece and Spain.
In its ruling, the European Court of Justice stated that shortcomings in the welfare system of an EU member state should not prevent the deportation of asylum seekers there.
It said exceptions were admissible only in extreme case where the migrant would be deprived of the “most basic needs, such as feeding, washing and finding shelter.”
Such severely poor living conditions, however, do not including “significant poverty” or a desire for German welfare standards vis-à-vis those of other EU countries.
Under the EU’s Dublin Regulation migrants ought to apply for asylum in the first EU country that they enter, which then becomes responsible for their protection and processing their application.
Migrants who travel illegally to another EU state and seek asylum there can be deported to the point of entry in the EU within six months.
The ruling of the ECJ greenlights Germany’s efforts to deport a large number of migrants to “border” EU states.
Back in 2018, Germany sent back over 8,000 migrants, mostly to Italy and a few to Greece.
At present, Germany currently sends back very few, if any, asylum-seekers to Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece, according to the Interior Ministry, which said there was no guarantee the countries were upholding EU asylum rule, as cited by DW.
(Banner image: Italian Navy)