Before the meeting of EU interior ministers on asylum policy, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser made clear the urgency of reforms and warned of the negative consequences of non-agreement.

“In the 1990s, after the Balkan wars, we didn’t manage to achieve a permanently functioning system,” the SPD politician told the editorial network Germany. “And we didn’t make it after the big flight from Syria in 2015 either,” she added. “It’s important that we get results now. Otherwise, we can expect more national isolation. We have to save Europe’s open borders,” warned the German interior minister. The Schengen system would be in danger if the EU’s external borders were not reliably controlled.

Various drafts on the table

At the meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg today, a new attempt is to be made to initiate a major reform of the European asylum system. On the table are drafts for legal texts that the current Swedish EU Council Presidency has drawn up on the basis of proposals from the EU Commission. In particular, they provide for a more rigid approach to migrants with no prospects of staying. Among other things, it is about whether there should be preliminary checks on asylum applications at the EU’s external borders. The federal government wants to ensure that minors under the age of 18 and families with children are exempt from these procedures.

Faeser emphasized that there should be asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders. However, this should “not apply to people who have fled from torture, war and terror”. It’s about fast and fair asylum procedures for those who are unlikely to need protection in the EU. In general, the following applies: “The right to asylum is not affected. When people apply for asylum here in Europe, they must receive a fair, constitutional procedure. Each case must be examined individually.”

The SPD politician also emphasized: “Solidarity in the distribution of the refugees would be part of the overall package. If we come to an agreement, then that must be an integral part. There are not just border procedures or just a fair distribution. Both are conditional. “

Faeser against non-partisan Asylum Commission

With a view to federal politics, Faeser also rejected a proposal from the CDU to work out a reform of German asylum policy in a non-partisan commission. “There is only one chance to improve the situation: and this chance lies in Europe. There is no isolated German path,” said the SPD politician. “The CDU should understand that, which unfortunately is far away from the European party it used to be.”

Such a commission at a purely national level “would not change anything about the causes of the problem,” she explained. Faeser warned: “And nobody should forget: The right to asylum has a high value in our constitution. Anyone who wants to touch the right to asylum is playing the dirty game of the AfD and pushing boundaries that shouldn’t be pushed.”

The proposal for such a cross-party commission came from Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer. According to his ideas, the commission should draw up a proposal within six months, which could also include an amendment to the Basic Law. Among other things, he is concerned with reducing asylum seeker benefits to the level of other EU countries in order to reduce the financial pull effect. CDU leader Friedrich Merz was happy to adopt the proposal, as he said. The Schleswig-Holstein Education Minister Karin Prien from the liberal wing of the CDU also supported Kretschmer’s proposal.