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efms Migration Report

October 2004

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EU pilot scheme for refugee reception centres in North Africa

At their meeting in the Dutch city of Scheveningen on 30th September 2004, the 25 EU interior and justice ministers have agreed to set up five refugee reception centres in North Africa as a pilot scheme. In cooperation with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the EU presidency, currently held by the Netherlands, EU member states have agreed to support Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania in their efforts to establish asylum systems and maintain European standards concerning the admission and treatment of refugees. The EU Commission has been mandated to work out the administrative details until June 2005. Under currents plans, the reception centres are to open in December 2005. However, the proposals for setting up reception centres for refugees detained at sea and processing their asylum petitions in North Africa, which had been presented by the German interior minister Otto Schily (SPD) in cooperation with the Italian government, continue to be contentious. The governments of Sweden, Spain and France have already expressed objections to the plans. Austria, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Poland and Belgium, on the other hand, are in favour of the proposals. EU Commissioner Antonio Vitorino has emphasised that the idea will continue to be "unthinkable" until the EU has managed to establish a common asylum system. Nevertheless, the Commission has been advised to review Mr. Schily's proposals, which also include a proposal for setting up clearing centres for migrant labour.
BZ 01.10.04 // FTD 01.10.04 // FR 02.10.04 // Die Welt 02.10.04 // SZ 03.10.04 // Handelsblatt 22.10.04 // taz 26.10.04

Hague programme for common European asylum and refugee policy

The interior and justice ministers of the EU member states met in Luxembourg on 25th October 2004 in order to debate proposals for a common European asylum and migration policy entitled "Hague Programme for fostering liberty, security and justice". At the meeting, ministers have agreed on the general goal of harmonizing European migration policy, but have failed to reach a consensus on a timetable and the concrete steps to be taken next. The German government and several other member states have expressed the view that the evaluation of the harmonising guidelines, which had been passed in Tampere in 1999 and will come up for an assessment in 2007, should be postponed until 2008. In a similar vein, Germany, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Denmark and Finland have rejected the planned introduction of a common EU asylum system until 2010 as precipitate. However, the governments of Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary and Luxembourg, as well as Antonio Vitorino, the EU interior and justice commissioner, have expressed their determination to meet the deadline of 2010. The introduction of qualified majority voting in the areas of asylum policy, immigration and the protection of the EU's exterior borders also continues to be a contentious issue. Whereas EU interior and justice commissioner Antonio Vitorino and the British Government are in favour of majority voting, Otto Schily (SPD), the German interior minister, has expressed reservations. The Dutch government, which is currently holding the EU presidency, has stated its intention to stick with most of the current proposals, but will also put the objections against the proposals on record in a formal note.
FAZ 26.10.2004 // Die Welt 26.10.04 // International Herald Tribune 26.10.04 // taz 26.10.04

EU interior ministers agree on introducing passports that include biometric data

The interior ministers of EU member states have agreed to store two types of biometric data on new passports in future, viz fingerprints and a digitalised photo. The EU Commission is to publish an EU directive to that effect shortly. According to Otto Schily (SPD), the German interior minister, the German government is planning to issue the first new passports as soon as the end of the year 2005. EU citizens will also require the new passports if they wish to enter the USA without a visa, with US regulations stipulating that passports, starting from October 2005, have to include at least one of these two types of biometric data.
BZ 27.10.04

Ruling by European Court of Justice: Protection against deportation for Turkish family members does not only apply to blood relations

According to the 1980 EU association agreement with Turkey, family members of Turkish residents who have been convicted of criminal offences are afforded a special protection against deportation. In a preliminary ruling (2004/C-275/02), the European Court of Justice has decided that the legal definition of family members does not include blood relations only. The Court of Justice has ruled that, in the underlying case, a convicted Turkish resident has to be recognised as a family member because he had been authorised to live in the household of his Turkish step father who belongs to the regular labour market of an EU member state as foreign labour.
FAZ 01.10.2004

Deportation of Kaplan after 21-year residency in Germany

Metin Kaplan (51), the self-proclaimed "caliph of Cologne", has been deported from Duesseldorf airport to Turkey after a 21-year residency in Germany, following a legal battle that has been continuing for several years. The Cologne administrative court had ruled that Mr. Kaplan could be deported even though appeal proceedings are still pending. In its ruling, the court states that Mr. Kaplan has to be regarded as a proponent of Islamic terrorism. Therefore his personal interests in remaining in Germany are outbalanced by the public interest in deporting him without further delay. Authorities in Turkey are planning to put Mr. Kaplan on trial after his forced return. Turkish authorities accuse him of being the mastermind behind a planned terrorist attack in Turkey in 1998, which could have claimed the lives of thousands of army members as well as dignitaries from Turkey and abroad.
SZ 13.10.04 // FAZ 13.10.2004

First annual report of the expert advisory commission for migration and integration

Rita Süssmuth (CDU), chairwoman of the expert advisory council for migration and integration, presented the first annual report of the council to Otto Schily (SPD), the federal interior minister, on 19th October 2004. In its report, the six-member advisory panel advises an expansion of integration offers. Among other things, the council calls for expanding all-day schools, a proposal that would be beneficial for migrant children in particular. Furthermore, additional funds should be allocated to language courses for migrants. The council also advises long-term residence perspectives for persons with a toleration certification living in Germany for a rather long time. Another proposal calling for an immigration system "allowing migration inflows of qualified labour into those sectors of the labour market that are characterised by labour shortages" has sparked a political controversy. In the commission's view, Germany, its high levels of unemployment notwithstanding, is in need of limited migration inflows of qualified foreign labour in order to maintain its economic prosperity and counterbalance the demographic changes of German society. The commission has estimated the demand for so-called "bottleneck labour" at 25,000 migrants for the year 2005 alone, especially in economic sectors such as health, mechanical engineering and financial services. However, these proposals have met with criticism, not only from representatives of the opposition CDU/CSU parties, but also from several leading SPD politicians. Mr. Schily has expressed reservations and has announced that the proposals will be reviewed "very thoroughly indeed". Representatives of the Greens, on the other hand, have welcomed the proposals. Their parliamentary secretary Volker Beck has criticised that it would be "careless and not future-oriented" if recommendations of the expert panel were "rejected precipitately"
Der Spiegel 19.10.2004 // ND 20.10.2004 // FR 20.1.2004 // Die Welt 20.10.2004 // NN 20.10.2004 // Die Welt 21.10.2004 // FAZ 21.10.2004 // FR 21.10.2004

Commissions for hardship cases set up in accordance with the new Immigration Act

Whereas the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Hesse have refrained from setting up commissions for hardship cases in accordance with the new immigration act, representatives of the CDU and SPD parties in Brandenburg have reached a consensus on setting up such a commission. In recent months, respective proposals had repeatedly been rejected by Jörg Schönbohm, the Brandenburg interior minister and chairman of the state CDU party organisation. North-Rhine Westphalia, on the other hand, already set up its own hardship commission within the state interior ministry eight years ago. The commission comprises representatives of the churches, charitable organisations, the refugee council and the organisation Pro Asyl. According to a recent survey, the commission has so far reviewed petitions by 4,500 foreign nationals, with approximately 1,000 foreign nationals and their families being eventually granted an extension of their residence status.
FAZ 21.10.2004 // BZ 29.10.2004

Headscarf ban in several federal states

Following the example of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony and Saarland, Hesse has been the fourth federal state to pass a state law banning headscarves for Muslim teachers. However, the Hesse state law applies to civil servants in general, and is thus considerably more far-reaching than the headscarf ban of the other federal states. The state of Berlin is also debating a bill for a so-called "Neutrality Act", which would ban the public display of all religious symbols, with the exception of jewellery, in the entire public sector. However, it remains to be seen if these state laws will be upheld by the courts. In Baden-Wuerttemberg, Fereshta Ludin, a Muslim teacher, already appealed to the Federal Administrative Court in June 2004 against the state law banning all "political, religious and ideological displays" that would "endanger the neutrality of schools or interfere with school peace". In its ruling, the Federal Administrative Court has stated that the state law constitutes a sufficient legal foundation for rejecting the application of the complainant to be employed as a civil servant. However, the court has also stated that a "strictly equal treatment" of all religions has to be guaranteed, thus excluding "exceptions for certain forms of religiously motivated attire". The interpretation of the court ruling has sparked a legal debate. Whereas Annette Schavan, the state education minister, is convinced that the "wearing of a Christian habit" continues to be admissible as a "display of the Christian traditions, the historical roots of the identity of the state", Winfried Kretschmann, parliamentary leader of the Greens in the state parliament and member of the Central Council of Catholics, as well as the constitutional law expert and former judge of the Federal Constitutional Court, Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, have argued that the ban was unambiguous and would also include the Christian cross and the Jewish Kippa.
SZ 06.10.04 // BZ 06.10.04 // FAZ 10.10.04 // SZ 12.10.2004 // Der Spiegel 18.10.04 // FR 18.10.04 // BZ 29.10.04

Department for Foreign Affairs tightens visa regulations

The Department for Foreign Affairs (AA) has announced its intention to tighten visa rules for foreign nationals entering Germany, replacing the so-called "Volmer Directive". The ministry has thus reacted to irregularities concerning the issue of visas that have occurred at several German embassies. The new "Chroborg Directive", named after Jürgen Chroborg, state secretary at the foreign ministry, will in future instruct all German embassies and consulates to reject the visa applications of foreign nationals if there are doubts as to their willingness to return to their home countries.
Die Welt 18.10.2004

Asylum statistics

In October 2004, 2,898 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of asylum seekers by 4.7% (+130 persons) over the previous month, but a decrease by 33.3% (-1,445 persons) over October 2003. During October 2004, asylum seekers' main countries of origin were Serbia and Montenegro (319), Turkey (310) and the Russian Federation (228), followed by Vietnam (155) and Iraq (134). In October 2004, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has reviewed the cases of 4,455 persons, 58 (1.3%) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 56 persons (1.3%) have been granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Foreigners Act (AusLG). The petitions of 2,747 persons (61.6%) have been rejected. The cases of 1,594 persons (35.8%) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants had withdrawn their petitions.
Pressemitteilung BMI 12.11.04

October 2004

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