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efms Migration Report

April 2002

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EU interior ministers reach agreement on minimum standards for asylum seekers

At a meeting in Luxembourg, the EU Council of Interior and Justice Ministers has agreed on common EU standards for dealing with asylum seekers. Under the agreement, all EU member states have to ensure that asylum applicants are provided with sufficient accommodation and maintenance, and that minors have free access to state schools.

Furthermore, asylum seekers are to be granted work permits no later than twelve months after submitting their applications, even though details of labour market access for foreign nationals are still to be determined by individual member states. Ministers have not yet passed a legally binding decision on these guidelines, as the Council of Ministers first has to debate an enquiry submitted by the German government.

Ministers also agreed on intensifying co-operation in order to fight illegal immigration and criminal human trafficking. In view of the increase in attacks on Jewish institutions in some EU member states, ministers have also announced plans to co-operate in order to tackle anti-Semitic and racist violence.
FAZ 26.04.02 // FR 26.04.02 // SZ 26.04.02

Election platform of CDU/CSU will focus on immigration

Contrary to earlier announcements made by Edmund Stoiber (CSU), the CDU/CSU candidate for Chancellor, the party did not pick out immigration as their central theme in the state election campaign in Saxony-Anhalt. Even though major religious organisations, trade unions and the governing parties have expressed reservations, the CDU/CSU is still planning to focus on immigration in this year's federal election campaign.

However, Erwin Huber (CSU), head of the Bavarian State Chancellery, and Angela Merkel, the CDU chairwoman, have both promised to treat the issue in a responsible manner. Mrs. Merkel has emphasised that their election campaign will not "take unfair advantage of non-German residents". Nevertheless, the CDU announces in its election platform that it will drastically reduce immigration to Germany if it wins federal parliamentary elections in September.

Following the CDU victory in the state election in Saxony-Anhalt, which has given the CDU/CSU a majority in the Bundesrat, the second chamber of the federal parliament representing the interests of the Laender (federal states), Michael Glos, the parliamentary leader of the CSU in the Bundestag, the first chamber of the federal parliament, has emphatically called on Johannes Rau, the Federal President, to refrain from signing the government's immigration bill. The Presidential Office, which has been reviewing the bill since mid-April, has rejected Mr. Glos's statements.
FR 03.04.02 // Welt 03.04.02 // FR 04.04.02 // SZ 04.04.02 // Spiegel 18.04.02 // FR 23.04.02 // SZ 24.04.02 // Welt 25.04.02

Lower Saxony triggers debate on reducing inflows of Spätaussiedler

The state government of Lower Saxony has announced its plans to launch a parliamentary initiative in order to drastically reduce inflows of Spätaussiedler, i.e. ethnic German immigrants.

The proposal of the SPD-governed state aims at reforming the Federal Law on Displaced Persons (Bundesvertriebenengesetz) to the effect that ethnic German residents of the former Soviet Union will only be entitled to migrate to Germany if they can provide proof not only of their German origin, but also of having been subject to individual discrimination on account of their German ethnicity. In 1993, similar restrictions were already imposed on inflows of Spätaussiedler from other Eastern European countries.

The main reason for the Lower-Saxon initiative is the altered composition of Spätaussiedler inflows from the former Soviet Union, the group which currently makes up 99% of all ethnic German immigrants: Of the nearly 100,000 migrants entering Germany per year, no more than one fourth are of German origin; the remaining 75,000 are accompanying family members who, in most cases, are not able to speak German at all.

Opposition parties have rejected the initiative, and Jochen Welt (SPD), the Federal Government Commissioner for Spätaussiedler, has also stated that he will not support it. Mr. Welt and a spokeswoman of the Federal Interior Ministry both argue that migration inflows of Spätaussiedler will decrease anyway as soon as the government immigration bill has been passed, which stipulates that in future accompanying family members will have to prove German language skills on entering Germany.
FR 03.04.02 // FR 04.04.02 // Welt 04.04.02 // FR 09.04.02

Plans for anti-discrimination law founder for the time being

According to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), the federal government will not introduce a bill for an anti-discrimination law during the current parliamentary session. Consequently, the proposal presented by Herta Däubler-Gmelin (SPD), the Federal Justice Minister, has foundered for the time being.

The Justice Ministry proposals envision that all persons feeling that they have been subjected to discrimination because of their ethnicity, sex, age, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation are entitled to bring civil actions.

This broad interpretation of anti-discrimination legislation has met with fierce resistance by various business and industry interest groups as well as religious organisations. In particular, criticism has been levelled at proposals to reverse the burden of proof, which would entail that defendants themselves have to prove that no discriminatory acts have occurred.

The Justice Ministry bill follows guidelines passed by the EU Council in 2000 "in application of the principle of equal opportunities banning discrimination because of race or ethnic origin". Under the EU guidelines, member states have to pass national anti-discrimination legislation until the end of June 2003.
SZ 09.04.02 // Focus 15.04.02

Jewish community sees indications for new anti-Semitism in Germany

According to the Jewish community in Germany, the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East has led to an increase in anti-Semitic sentiments in Germany. Indications for this development are seen in recent attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, as well as in the rising number of anti-Semitic letters received by Jewish organisations. Statements of some German politicians and journalists have also been censured, as they are considered to favour the Palestinian side in the Middle East conflict and only level criticism at Israelis.

Both the German Federal Council of Jews and Israel's ambassador Schimon Stein have condemned biased expressions of sympathy for the Palestinian side and have defended the actions of Israel's armed forces as a "legitimate fight" against terrorism.
FR 11.04.02 // SZ 12.04.02 // SZ 15.04.02 // SZ 30.04.02

Asylum statistics

In April 2002, 6,019 persons have submitted applications for political asylum in Germany. Compared to March, this constitutes an increase of 5.7% (322 persons). However, compared to April 2001, numbers have decreased by 2.6% (163 persons). During the first four months of 2002, 1,995 fewer asylum applications were submitted than during the same period of the previous year, i.e. a decrease of 7.3%. Asylum seekers' main countries of origin continue to be Turkey, Iraq and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, followed by the Russian Federation and Afghanistan.

In April 2002, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on 14,528 asylum applications, 1.8% (260) of which have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. An additional 3% (430) are protected against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Aliens Act. 59.5% of all applications (8,645) have been rejected.
Press statement BMI 14.05.02

April 2002

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