“Germans prevent decisive steps,” says researchers, explaining the asylum illusion

The sea rescue ship

The number of asylum seekers in Germany has risen to a record level: the authorities received more than 243,000 applications last year. This puts Germany at the top of the list in the European Union, followed by France, Spain and Austria. And this year, too, the number of applications in the first seven months rose by 78 percent to 175,000 in comparison to the same period last year. Against this background, many Germans would like to see immigration more closely monitored. According to the migration researcher Ruud Koopmans, professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, the fact that politics does not succeed in this poses the risk of a democratic crisis.

In an interview with “Welt”, the expert explains the sharp increase this year: “During the restricted mobility and the border protection measures in the Corona period, many had to postpone their migration. Now the opportunity is there again, so more are coming.” He thinks little of the latest EU asylum reforms. The implementation of these border procedures could take a long time – if the reform plans are even passed by the EU Parliament.

“In any case, one fundamental problem remains: What happens to the people who come into the planned border procedures and are rejected? Can they be returned quickly? No,” Koopmans told Welt.

European asylum system costs more lives than it saves

As long as the problem of repatriation is not solved, nothing will change. A solution is only possible through agreements with countries of origin and transit, including an extension of the principle of safe third countries.

Basically, the migration researcher is not very convinced of the European asylum system. It costs more lives than it saves, writes Koopmans in his book. The expert calculates how he came to this conclusion: In the past ten years, more than 25,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea, at least 5,000 on the way through the Sahara.

According to UNHCR estimates, more people died on the way to the North African coast than at sea. The status quo of European migration policy means 30,000 to 60,000 deaths in the last ten years. “On the other hand, we have to ask ourselves: how many lives have we saved? That’s vanishingly few.”

Illusion of believing that irregular migration is going through legal channels is declining

Most would be rescued from poverty, but not from mortal danger or from political persecution. “Syrians flee mortal threats to Turkey or Lebanon, and Afghans are rescued from mortal danger by neighboring Iran. When Syrians or Afghans arrive in this country, they were usually safe beforehand.”

For a refugee, crossing to Europe is just as life-threatening as staying in Syria, explains Koopmans. He makes such a calculation to show “how dangerous our paradigm is to focus protection efforts on people who make it to the EU’s external border.”

The idea of ​​using legal escape routes from irregular to regular migration, as demanded by Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), is “fantastic”. Only: It is an illusion to believe that irregular migration will decrease through legal channels. “That would only be the case if everyone were allowed to immigrate.”

Immigration question harms democracy

The fact that the parties have not been able to satisfy the majority of the population’s need for immigration control and to initiate decent reform for more than three decades has led to a loss of confidence. “As a result, we have a democratic demand for a product X that will not be delivered for decades. This leads to a crisis of democracy,” said Koopmans in an interview with the “world”.

His constructive suggestion: “I am in favor of extending the principle of safe third countries to countries outside the European Union in asylum law.” do, be returned again. “The aim was that this would reduce the number of migrants because they know that they will end up in Athens and Rome and not in Berlin or Amsterdam.”

According to the migration expert, the aim must be to win central transit countries such as Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco as partners. Rwanda, Ghana and Senegal are also relatively stable countries that could be a safe place to stay for refugees with financial and logistical support from Europe. In any case, the EU is making it difficult for itself by not negotiating with transit countries.

The Germans would currently prevent decisive steps

The so-called connection principle, which is enshrined in the European asylum procedure rules, states “that people can only be brought back to safe third countries to which they have a certain connection – be it through family or because they had a right of residence there,” explains Koopmans. In the negotiations between the EU members, it was a major point of contention whether passing through a transit country can also be seen as a connection and whether those seeking protection can therefore be transferred to such countries. “Unlike most other EU countries, the federal government has strictly refused to stipulate the transit solution.”

Koopmans criticizes: “The Germans are currently preventing decisive steps” that could help solve the refugee crisis in Europe. “The intention of the coalition agreement is not only to conclude agreements with countries of origin, but also with transit countries.” The Federal Government recently prevented the latter during consultations in the EU at the request of the Greens. “And the formally responsible coalition partner, namely the FDP in the person of Joachim Stamp, does not seem to consider it important enough to insist on the coalition agreement.”



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