Germany Fails to Convince Other EU States on its Refugee Proposition
Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his EU counterparts sought to decide on a distribution mechanism for migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. Germany and its partners failed to deliver.
The negotiated transitional solution for the distribution of rescued boat refugees continues to stall. At a meeting of EU Home Affairs Ministers on Tuesday in Luxembourg, no country officially joined the agreement that was reached by France, Malta, Italy and Germany.
The agreement was intended to act as a transitional solution trough which all countries would receive future rescued migrants under a “temporary solidarity mechanism”. Seehofer even pledged to accept 25 per cent of all rescued refugees in Germany.
The agreement also entailed a distribution for economic refugees, which make up about 80 per cent of all rescued individuals. However, many of the present countries opposed the idea. Only two weeks ago, Seehofer said several countries would “definitely join in”, despite their publicly expressed opposition.
Seehofer had continuously that the exact number of rescued individuals was insignificantly low. Since July 2018, 2199 migrants have been rescued and been taken to Italy or Malta. Germany, so far, has accepted 225 of them.
Compared with overall immigration, the number of boat refugees remains infinitesimal. By the end of September, 110,000 asylum applications had already been submitted in Germany, which remains the leading destination in Europe, ahead of France and Spain.
Italy has received far fewer asylum seekers in recent years than Germany, and so far, this year the number has been about four times less at 28,000. That’s why many of Seehofer’s colleagues in the Union wonder why Germany, of all things, is supposed to take over Italy from other asylum seekers permanently.
Critics are also worried about the signals of Seehofer’s new approach, as the prospect of distribution to Germany or France could attract even more migrants. It seems inconceivable that the emergency mechanism ceases to exist if the number of immigrants rescued reaches “thousands” – as Seehofer promised.
However, it also causes a particular headache for parts of Seehofer’s Party that such a mechanism could become the beginning of a significant European redistribution system. Seehofer sent exactly these signals on Tuesday. The minister said the mechanism could be a “pilot project” for standard European asylum policy.
It could amount to the solution Europe has been waiting for years, while it would help Seehofer to solidify his legacy prior to the end of his career. It comes as a surprise, however, as Seehofer has been well known for a conservative approach towards immigration during his political life. It is one reason why, within his party, the CSU, the resentment against him continues to grow.
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