efms Migration Report
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EU interior ministers
debate proposals on common EU immigration quotas
At an informal meeting of
EU interior ministers in Rome, participants have discussed possibilities of tackling illegal
migration inflows into EU member states. Giuseppe Pisanu, the Italian interior minister, has
suggested making additional offers for legal immigration in return for increased efforts by
source countries to reduce illegal immigration. In order to achieve this aim, Mr. Pisanu has
called for negotiations with migrants" countries of origin on immigration quotas. EU interior
ministers have agreed to request the European Commission to compile a study on the possible
effects of such immigration quotas. The European Commission is to present its results until
Antonio Vitorino, the EU Commissioner for Interior and Justice Policy,
as well as Romano Prodi, President of the EU Commission, have expressed their support for
the immigration quota proposals. Vitorino has stated that theses quota regulations could be
helpful in the negotiations with migrants" home countries on tackling illegal immigration. At
the same time, the Italian Interior Minister and his German counterpart Otto Schily (SPD)
have emphasised that each EU member state should retain the right to decide independently
on the number of immigrants it is willing to admit. In Mr. Schily"s view, quota regulations
can therefore only constitute possible upper limits for migration inflows.
In a speech
before the European Parliament, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and current
President of the EU Council, has presented a combined approach to fighting illegal
immigration: One the one hand, illegal immigration should be tackled by intensifying
European cooperation in border checks. On the other hand, EU member states should also
create new opportunities for legal migration to the European Union by quota regulations.
FR 13.09.03 // 02.10.03 // dpa 22.10.03 // NZZ 23.10.03 // SZ 23.10.03
// Handelsblatt 24.10.03
EU interior ministers want to speed up asylum procedure by introducing a common list of
"safe countries of origin"
At an official meeting in Brussels, EU interior
ministers have agreed to request the EU Commission to compile a list of so-called "safe
countries of origin", in an effort to speed up asylum procedure for refugees. The list
could help to speed up the review of asylum petitions by migrants from countries categorised
as safe. However, Giuseppe Pisanu, the Italian interior minister, has stressed that all asylum
petitions will still be reviewed individually. The common EU list of safe countries is to
constitute a "minimum requirement", which EU member states are entitled to
expand by adding further countries. The German Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has
welcomed the proposal to introduce such a concept in the EU asylum policy.
related matter, however, EU interior ministers have so far been unable to reach a consensus
on a second list of safe third countries to which rejected asylum seekers could be deported.
The governments of Sweden and Finland in particular have expressed concern that refugees
could be deported to third countries where asylum procedures are not in accordance with
European legal standards. Consequently, these third countries could deport refugees to their
home countries even in hardship cases. The UNHCR and ECRE, the European umbrella
organisation of 78 refugee support groups, have expressed similar concerns.
dpa 01.10.03 // FAZ 02.10.03 // FR online 04.10.03 // taz
committee begins negotiations on Migration Act
The parliamentary conference
committee, which has been called upon to work out a compromise between the two houses of
the federal parliament on migration reform, has set up a twenty- member sub-committee
chaired by Saarland Premier Peter Müller (CDU). The migration sub-committee has
been commissioned to present proposals for a compromise on migration reform until the end
of the year. In its first meeting, the sub-committee has discussed several particularly
contentious issues, such as the admission of refugees for humanitarian reasons and
In the run-up to the first round of negotiations, Mr.
Müller has reiterated the position of the opposition CDU/CSU parties, demanding that
immigration for humanitarian reasons be strictly limited to the areas defined by the Geneva
Convention on Refugees. In addition, opposition parties want to ensure that hardship
regulations do not create further incentives for migrating to Germany or obstruct the
administration of foreign-resident law. According to Günther Beckstein (CSU), the
Bavarian Interior Minister, the proposals of the red-green government coalition are far from
fulfilling these criteria.
Up to now, no results of this first round of negotiations in the
parliamentary conference committee have been made public. Volker Beck, secretary of the
Green parliamentary party, has called the talks "extremely difficult", as
representatives of the government coalition and the opposition parties have positions that are
"widely apart". Even though all participants praised the serious and non-polemic
atmosphere at the negotiations, observers continue to be sceptical about the prospects of
reaching an agreement between the coalition and opposition parties.
Marieluise Beck (Greens), the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration, has called
on all members of the parliamentary conference committee to create a legal basis for the
about 220,000 non-German residents that have been issued with a so-called "toleration
certificate". In the same vein, State Commissioners for Foreign Resident Affairs and
Integration have demanded, in a majority vote at their autumn conference in Stuttgart, that
non-German residents who have been granted repeated toleration certificates for several years
should be granted a secure residence status, provided they fulfil integration criteria.
dpa 10.10.03 // dpa 24.10.03 // Stuttgarter Zeitung 24.10.03 // SZ
24.10.03 // Welt 24.10.03 // FR 25.10.03 // FAZ 27.10.03 // Welt 27.10.03
No nation-wide consensus
on legal regulations concerning Muslim teachers wearing headscarves at work
Following the ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on whether female Muslim
teachers should be allowed to wear headscarves during work at public schools, state
governments, which have been commissioned by the court to present their own proposals,
have been unable to agree on common nation-wide regulations. Two efforts to reach a
consensus, one at the Conference of Culture Ministers (KMK), the other at the autumn
conference of State Commissioners for Foreign Resident Affairs and Integration in Stuttgart,
have failed, effectively ruling out the possibility of nation-wide regulations on this
The CDU/CSU-led state governments of Baden-Württemberg,
Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Saarland, as well as the SPD-led governments in Berlin
and Brandenburg, have announced plans to present state laws that would prevent Muslim
teachers from wearing headscarves during classes.
Annette Schavan (CDU), the
Baden-Württemberg Minister for Cultural Affairs/Education, has already presented an
amendment of the education act banning headscarves in state schools. In a statement, Mrs.
Schavan has expressed the view that such a ban is justified due to the fact that wearing a
headscarf is not only a religious Muslim symbol, but also a "political sign and symbol
of cultural separation".
In the state of Hesse, CDU parliamentary leader Josef
Jung has announced plans to pass a state law that would ban the wearing of headscarves not
only for teachers at state school, but also for all civil servants. Similar plans are being
discussed in Saarland and Berlin.
Apart from Bremen, which has so far been unable
to reach a consensus, all other state governments have expressed the view that there is no
need for further legislation on this matter. Doris Ahnen (SPD), the Minister for Cultural
Affairs/Education in Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, has stated that existing legislation,
e.g. disciplinary law for public-sector workers, is sufficient to maintain the principle of
neutrality in state education. Marieluise Beck (Greens), the Federal Government
Commissioner for Integration, has also rejected proposals for passing a general ban of
wearing headscarves during work at state schools.
The debate has also raised a
related issue, i.e. the question of how to deal with other religious symbols in state schools.
Whereas state governments in Berlin and Bremen plan to enforce a strict separation between
state and religion by banning all conspicuous religious symbols in schools, other state
governments, for example in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Lower Saxony, oppose
placing Christian and Muslim symbols at the same level. According to Mrs. Schavan,
fostering and expressing Christian values and symbols constitutes one of the
"educational goals set by the state constitution of
Spiegel online 03.10.03 // FAZ 05.10.03 // KMK-Pressemitteilung
10.10.03 // SZ 13.10.03 // dpa 16.10.03 // FR 16.10.03 // Spiegel 20.10.03 // Stuttgarter
Zeitung 24.10.03 // FR 29.10.03
Lower Saxony plans
stricter deportation procedures
Uwe Schünemann (CDU), the Lower Saxony interior
minister, has announced plans to implement stricter deportation rules for foreign nationals
who have not been granted a residence entitlement of any form. In order to achieve this aim,
the state government will repeal a decree, passed in 1995, which has obliged authorities to
inform foreign nationals that their deportation is imminent. According to Mr.
Schünemann, this information has in many cases been abused by the foreign nationals
concerned to go underground or to provide medical certificates posing obstacles to their
deportation. In future, the state government plans to deport respective foreign nationals
without prior notification.
In addition, Mr. Schünemann wants to present
proposals at the next meeting of the Conference of State Interior Ministers which would ban
foreign nationals who resist their deportation by means of protest or physical violence from
re-entering Germany at a later date. The state government of Lower Saxony also supports a
Bavarian initiative which would declare "acts of protest and resistance by third parties
against deportations" (e.g. by refugee support organisations) illegal; such behaviour is
to be defined as a criminal offence under the Foreigners Act.
Representatives of the
SPD and Greens, the opposition parties in Lower Saxony, as well as the Lower Saxony
Refugee Council, have rejected Mr. Schünemann"s plans.
dpa 27.10.03 // FR 28.10.03 // taz 28.10.03
In October 2003, a total of 4,343 persons have submitted petitions for political asylum in
Germany. The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has thus registered a
decrease by 1.7 % (- 75 persons) over the previous month, and by 33.9 % (-2,225 persons)
over October 2002.
During the first ten months of 2003, a total of 43,331 persons
have applied for political asylum in Germany, compared with 60,808 applicants during the
first ten months of last year.
In October 2003, asylum seekers" main countries of
origin were Turkey (555), Serbia and Montenegro (467) and the Russian Federation (318),
followed by Vietnam (187) and Iran (186).
In October, the Federal Office for the
Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on the petitions of 7,356 applicants,
127 (1.7 %) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum according to the
Basic Law, Germany"s constitution.
A further 83 persons (1.1 %) have been granted
protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The
petitions of 5,000 persons (68.0 %) have been rejected, with 116 of them being granted a stay
of deportation according to §53 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The cases of a further 2,146
persons (29.2 %) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. because applicants have withdrawn
their asylum petitions).
Pressemitteilung BMI 06.11.03
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