efms Migration Report
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EU interior ministers still
divided over harmonisation of asylum policy
EU interior ministers have once
again failed to reach an agreement concerning common criteria for recognising refugees and
processing asylum petitions. The main contentious issue is about which refugee groups are to
be granted "subsidiary protection". Otto Schily (SPD), the German interior
minister, was the only participant who refused to extend protection to refugees who have
been subject to non-governmental persecution; in his view, these refugees should only be
issued toleration certificates in Germany. Mr. Schily has also reiterated his reservations
concerning harmonised EU regulations allowing inflows of labour migrants.
interior ministers have reached agreement concerning so-called "ex-post asylum
grounds". They have agreed that each member state is free to decide on its own whether
it recognises refugees who have created asylum grounds after migrating to an EU member
country. Furthermore, ministers have reached a consensus over restricting the protection for
refugees who themselves are guilty of committing human rights violations.
According to a timetable set by EU heads of government and state at the European
Council Meeting in Tampere (Finland) in 1999, EU interior ministers have to agree on
common standards for refugees seeking shelter in an EU member state. The UNHCR and the
Pro Asyl lobbying group have renewed their appeal to the German government
to end its blockade of a harmonisation of EU refugee and asylum law.
At the EU
interior minister meeting, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has left no doubt that
he will continue to reject any respective EU proposals as long as the German government
coalition has been unable to reach an agreement with opposition parties over a new German
migration law. Hartmut Koschyk (CSU), the interior-policy spokesman of the opposition
CDU/CSU parliamentary party, has warned the red-green government coalition against taking
advantage of EU regulations in order to extend refugee rights in Germany, as there is no
parliamentary majority in Germany supporting such a step. The CDU/CSU parliamentary
party has also introduced a parliamentary initiative forcing the Federal Government to
"inform parliament extensively about all developments in EU foreign-resident, asylum
and migration policy."
FR 07.05.03 // dpa 08.05.03 // FR 08.05.03 // FR 09.05.03 // SZ
09.05.03 // FAZ 28.05.03
coalition re-introduces migration bill in the German Bundestag
In the run-up to the
parliamentary debate on the federal government's migration bill in the
Bundestag, the lower house of the federal parliament, the opposition CDU/CSU
parliamentary party has demanded no fewer than 128 amendments to the government bill in
the parliamentary interior policy committee. In a statement, the CDU/CSU parliamentary
party has justified this move by expressing the view that the government bill will not lead to
limiting migration inflows but, on the contrary, allow additional inflows of migrants to
Germany. Consequently, a compromise between opposition parties and the red-green
government coalition is only "conceivable if the government bill is comprehensively
amended", according to CDU/CSU representatives. The main demands of opposition
parties comprise the following points: repealing in part the 1999 reform of naturalisation law,
renewing the general recruitment ban for non-German labour and expanding integration
programmes. In the Bundestag's parliamentary committee for interior policy,
these demands were rejected by parliamentarians of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.
After a heated debate in a plenary session of the German Bundestag, the
government migration bill was passed by the red-green majority, with CDU/CSU and the two
PDS parliamentarians voting against it; the FDP parliamentary party abstained. Whereas
representatives of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party expressed fierce opposition against the
government bill and insisted on their list of 128 amendments, Federal Interior Minister Otto
Schily (SPD) expressed his willingness to compromise in some points. Max Stadler, the FDP
interior policy spokesman, stated that his party generally supports the government bill, but
also called for additional regulations fostering the integration of migrants into society.
Both the government coalition and the opposition parties expect the migration bill to fail
in the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament representing the German states.
Therefore the bill is likely to be referred to the parliamentary conference committee. Volker
back, the deputy speaker of the Green parliamentary party, has also expressed his willingness
to compromise, but insisted that the reform has to ensure an improvement of current legal
standards. Volker Kauder, the parliamentary secretary of the CDU/CSU, has meanwhile
announced that the parliamentary conference committee will not take up negotiations before
autumn. Mr. Kauder blamed the red-green government coalition for the delay, stating that it
failed to initiate fast-track parliamentary procedures and will not introduce the bill in the
Bundesrat before the end of June.
FR 10.05.03 // dpa 05.05.03 // dpa 07.05.03 // FR 08.05.03 // SZ
08.05.03 // Welt 08.05.03 // FAZ 10.05.03 // FR 10.05.03 // SZ 10.05.03 // Welt 10.05.03 //
FAZ 21.05.03 // SZ 21.05.03
ministers draft integration bill for non-German residents
At their meeting in
Bremen, state interior ministers representing the CDU/CSU opposition parties have decided
to introduce before the parliamentary summer recess an integration bill for non-German
residents in the Bundesrat, the second parliamentary chamber representing state
governments. Uwe Schünemann (CDU), the interior minister of Lower Saxony, has
confirmed that his state will organise the initiative. The bill which, according to Mr
Schünemann, will be based on Lower Saxony's state integration law, calls for
expanding integration courses for migrants, increasing the current 600-lesson curriculum to
almost 1,000 lessons, and expanding obligations to participate to non-Germans who already
are residents of Germany and receive welfare payments or unemployment benefits.
Furthermore, migrants entering Germany for the first time are to pay the entire course fees
themselves, with exceptions granted to migrants entitled to political asylum, so-called
"quota refugees" and people depending on welfare payments.
Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has rejected the initiative, refusing to split up the
government migration bill into several legislative proposals. CDU representatives have also
expressed criticism of the proposals. Saarland Premier Peter Müller (CDU) has
distanced himself from the proposals of this Lower-Saxony colleague, calling once again for
passing the migration reform as a whole. CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel has expressed a
similar view, warning fellow party members against creating the impression that the
CDU/CSU are blocking a compromise on migration reform. Max Stadler, the FDP interior
policy spokesman, has confirmed that his party continues to work for a comprehensive reform
of migration law. He has conceded that the Lower Saxony proposals constitute a starting
point for discussions concerning migration and integration.
SZ 10.05.03 // FR 13.05.03 // taz 13.05.03 // Welt 13.05.03 // FR
16.05.03 // SZ 16.05.03 // FR. 20.05.03 // SZ 23.05.03
Expert panel for migration
and integration has been constituted
Following a decree by Federal Interior
Minister Otto Schily (SPD), the federal government has set up an expert panel for migration
and integration. The panel was constituted at a meeting in Nuremberg. According to Mr.
Schily, the independent panel is responsible for "continuously evaluating the national
capacity for immigration and integration as well as current developments in migration".
Mr. Schily and Rita Süssmuth, the chairwoman of the expert panel, have both
expressed their conviction that the work of the panel will contribute to rendering the
migration debate more objective and factual.
The migration panel, which will hold
meetings once or twice every month and publish its first report in the summer of 2004,
consists of the following members: Rita Süssmuth, the chairwoman, Prof. Klaus J.
Bade, director of the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, Gerd
Landsberg, representative of the German Association of Municipalities, Prof. Gert Wagner,
research director at the German Institute for Economic Research, Christoph
Kannegießer, representing the German Association of Employers, and Heinz
Putzhammer, representing the German Trade Union Association. A seventh member, a
demographics expert, is still to be named.
FR 27.05.03 // NN 27.05.03 // SZ 27.05.03
Interior ministers oppose
forced repatriation of Afghan and Iraqi refugees
At the spring conference of
German interior ministers in Erfurt (Thuringia), ministers have agreed to refrain from the
forced repatriation of Afghan and Iraqi refugees for the time being. Even though ministers
insist on the eventual repatriation of Afghan and Iraqi refugees, they prefer voluntary
repatriation, as unstable conditions in refugees' home countries do at present not allow forced
repatriations. Ministers representing the opposition CDU/CSU parties were unable to find a
majority supporting repatriations of refugees as early as this summer. However, interior
ministers have agreed that Afghan refugees that have committed a criminal offence in
Germany or who are suspected of "posing a danger to national security" will be
subject to "earlier repatriation". According to reports published by Amnesty
International and the UNHCR, the unstable security situation in Afghanistan does not allow
any forced repatriations for the time being.
Concerning residence entitlements for
Romany people and other ethnic-minority refugees, interior ministers have made it clear that
this group will not be granted a permanent residence title, opposing respective proposals by
Marieluise Beck (Greens), the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees
and Integration. Once again, interior ministers give priority to voluntary repatriation, but do
not rule out forced repatriation in certain cases. Ministers have called on the Federal Interior
Ministry to intensify negotiations with UNMIK, the UN administration of Kosovo, in order to
continue and expand repatriations. According to current agreements between UNMIK and the
Federal Government, repatriations of some ethnic minorities are permitted on a certain scale.
Forced repatriations of Romany people and other members of ethnic minorities, however, are
not admissible until March 2004.
FR 07.05.03 // dpa 14.05.03 // FAZ 16.05.03 // FR 16.05.03 // SZ
In May 2003, a total of 3,758 persons have submitted petitions for political asylum in
Germany, a decrease by 254 persons (- 6.3 %) over the previous months. Asylum figures
have thus reached their lowest level since June 1987. Compared to May 2002, the number of
asylum seekers has dropped by 29.7 % (1,588 persons).
In May 2003, the main
countries of origin were Turkey (456), Serbia and Montenegro (358), Iraq (244), followed by
the Russian Federation (234) and China (225). The decrease was most significant for asylum
applicants from Iraq; in April, 446 nationals of Iraq had submitted an asylum petition.
During May 2003, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed
decisions on the applications of 7,545 persons, 119 (1.6 %) of whom have been recognised as
entitled to political asylum. A further 159 persons (2.1 %) have been granted protection
against deportation according to § 51 Par.1 Foreigners Act. The petitions of 5,256
persons (69.7 %) have been rejected.
Press Statement BMI 06.06.03
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