Berlin – ESI at debate on the reform of the EU’s asylum system

15 June 2023
Video: Europe Calling

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to participate in an online debate on the “Reform of EU Asylum Law – Historical Success or Backward Step for Human Rights?” organised by Europe Calling.

Gerald described the situation at the EU’s external borders where pushbacks have become the norm, particularly at the Poland-Belarus and Greece-Turkey borders. This has dramatically affected refugees’ chances to claim asylum in Europe, and severely challenges the pillars of the Geneva Refugee Convention.

Gerald argued that migration partnership agreements would lead to a drastic reduction in the arrival of migrants via the Mediterranean to Spain, Italy, and Greece, hence preventing the tragic loss of lives at sea. Such agreements must be based on mutual interests and international human rights standards so that pushbacks are inconceivable, asylum rights are safeguarded, swift asylum decisions are ensured upon arrival, and migrants who do not meet the criteria are transferred to a third country where they are treated with dignity and respect.

Analysing the flaws of the 2016 EU-Turkey statement, Gerald argued that similar pitfalls must be avoided in forthcoming migration agreements. Turkey has refused to readmit migrants since early 2020, when Greece started pushing back migrants at its borders. In this situation, ensuring the humane treatment of migrants should be a priority. Gerald said that Germany is the key actor in leading this much-needed asylum reform.

Gerald debated with Erik Marquardt (MEP, Migration Expert of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament), Sophie Scheytt (Asylum expert at Amnesty International in Germany), Anna Lührmann (Minister of State for Europe and Climate at the Federal Foreign Office), and Farbod Mahoutchiyan (Child rights expert at the child protection organisation Plan International Deutschland e.V.). The panel was moderated by Maximilian Fries (Managing Director of Europe Calling).