Germany appeals for common EU asylum policy

As irregular migrant arrivals continue to rise in Greece, German interior minister Horst Seehofer has appealed for European Union members to work together to create a common asylum policy. Seehofer also warned of a repeat of the 2015 migrant situation that caught the European Union unprepared.

EU interior ministers met on 8 October 2019 in Luxembourg, to discuss the resurgence of irregular migration to Europe, particularly to Greece. Nearly 46,000 irregular migrants have arrived by sea so far this year, with more expected to arrive as Turkey begins a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

“If we leave all the countries on the EU’s external border (to fend for themselves), there will never be a common European asylum policy,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. “And if there is no common European asylum policy, there is a danger that uncontrolled immigration will once again take place, throughout Europe. We have seen this before and I do not want it to happen again.”

The latest arrival figure in Greece is the highest monthly arrivals since the 2016 EU-Turkey deal. Under the deal, the EU provided Turkey EUR 6 billion in aid in exchange for Turkey to manage to flow of irregular migrants. However, Turkey has complained that the support is inadequate given that it now hosts around 3.5 million Syrian refugees.

Other EU countries also bear some burden of sea arrivals. Spain has received the second highest number of migrants this year with nearly 30,000, followed by Italy at nearly 8,000, Malta at close to 1,600 and Cyprus as about 800. Relative to population size, Cyprus is reported to be under most pressure.

“The EU will have to consider positively the allocation of further funds to those countries of the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean route affected by immense migratory flows,” Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria said in a separate document, according to news agency Reuters.

Germany has said it could take in a quarter of migrants who reach Italy by sea. However, the refusal of Hungary and Poland on the eastern flank of the EU has created a rift in the bloc since 2015.

All ministers are meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 17-18 October 2019 to further discuss the issue.

TMP – 16/10/2019

Photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis/ Shutterstock

Photo caption: Thessaloniki, Greece – April 5, 2019: Hundreds of migrants and refugees gathered following anonymous social media calls to walk until the Northern borders of Greece to pass to Europe.