Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, as temporary chairman of the EU Council of Ministers, remained confident until November, that he can resolve the dispute over migration that has been raging for five years- and asylum policy could resolve. As Council President, he wanted at least a fundamental political decision 27 Reach EU states, how migrants and refugees should be treated and distributed in the EU in the future. But nothing came of it.
In an inventory of the asylum issue, which the German Council Presidency presented on Monday, is captured, that there is no agreement on all essential points. The interior ministers of the EU states agreed to this sobering inventory via video conference. Die Proposals for asylum reform- and migration law, which is the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, submitted in September, will now move on to the next one, the Portuguese presidency, passed on.
“The knot is not broken”
Interior Minister Seehofer was personally spared this more or less embarrassing result. He was represented at the video conference by his state secretary, because he had to be quarantined due to corona contact. The “Gordian knots” has not yet been finally destroyed, said Interior State Secretary Stephan Mayer. But the member states are “significant steps” progressed. High-ranking EU diplomats see it differently. “The migration issue is ideologically charged and the most difficult problem of all, that the EU currently has”, said a diplomat in Brussels. The Foreign Minister of Malta, Evarist Bartolo, sees no significant progress despite German mediation efforts. “We are no closer than we were a few years ago”, so Bartolo.
Core question unresolved
The core question, how and whether migrants and refugees, the ones in Italy, Greece, Spain, Arrive in Cyprus or Malta, should be distributed to the other EU states fairly and in solidarity, has been unresolved for years. Three factions are fighting with each other. The so-called “Front states”, the country of first arrival according to the applicable “Dublin”-Rules for which migrants and asylum seekers are responsible, demand relief through distribution. The Western European states, which currently accept the most refugees and asylum seekers, Don't want to make more migrants and Eastern Europeans responsible. The Eastern European states, especially Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria do not want to accept any migrants at all, but are at most closed “flexible solidarity” ready. This could be the provision of staff or money.
Federal Interior Minister Seehofer and EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson are relying on stronger protection of the EU's external borders in their proposals, on asylum procedures directly in camps at the border, on more returns and on so-called “Deportation sponsorships”. Countries like Hungary and Poland want migrants, who are in Greece and would have to return to Afghanistan, for example, help deport. Hungary and Poland have already rejected this as unfeasible. All of the proposals are controversial in detail. Only in the general direction, Protect borders and deport more, there is a certain convergence of interests, stated the German Council Presidency at the last meeting of the interior ministers this year.
In practice nothing has changed
While the ministers argue, whether there can theoretically be closed camps for migrants, for example in Greece or Spain, in which they are held for weeks for the asylum procedure, play out in reality, There are completely different scenes in the existing camps. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and aid organizations like “Human Rights Watch” continue to report deplorable conditions in Greek reception camps on the Aegean islands. Around 1,000 people live in the largest camp, Kara Tepe, on Lesvos 7500 People in tents that have not been winterized are still without enough water, sanitary facilities or electricity. The Greek government has been operating the camp on a former military exercise site for the past three months- and firing range were built after the previous Moria camp burned down, presumably due to arson.
The Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis describes ongoing progress in Kara Tepe, but residents of the camp themselves say, Moria was hell, Kara Tepe is worse. Die Lobby-Organisation “European Council for Refugees and Exile ” (ECRE) maintains the conditions in Kara Tepe, where there is also a strict curfew due to Corona, in his reports as simply inhumane. Greece and the EU Commission have agreed until September 2021 to create a kind of model camp with exemplary facilities in Kara Tepe. Only a few hundred people were relocated from the islands to mainland Greece after the fire in Moria. According to UNHCR, the number of new arrivals on the Eastern Mediterranean route has fallen sharply compared to the previous year.
“This could still take some time”
Italy and Malta are reluctant to accept migrants, who are rescued on the high seas. According to UNHCR estimates, their numbers are also declining. For this the number of migrants on another route increases stark an. While the interior ministers continued to argue about principles over the last six months, The number of refugees, primarily from Africa, increased, those on the Canary Islands (Spain) translated, unexpectedly quickly. The island government of the Canary Islands sees itself with at least 16.000 Arrivals overwhelmed this year.
The high EU diplomat, who deals with the migration issue in Brussels and wishes to remain anonymous, ventured a prediction. “The problem will not be solved by the Portuguese Council Presidency in the next few months. That will take years.”