Der Spiegel wrote a very good title story this week (25 August) on the right refugee policy for the EU, which Germany should push for. A coherent plan that could get majority support – and be presented as alternative to Nauru fantasies / push-back proposals of Salvini, Orban and co. The key recommendations in this article:
1. More assistance to countries close to crises hosting many refugees, and to UNHCR.
2. Control external borders to know who enters; identify and register those who do.
3. More resettlement: more ways for refugees and those who are politically persecuted to find their way to Europe legally.
4. Rescues: Europe has a duty to rescue those at risk of drowning. This should not be left to private organisations.
5. European transit centres: there European experts should be able to determine within a few weeks whether somebody needs asylum; those who do not should not remain in Europe.
6. Agreements on return: negotiate new types of agreements with African countries of origin for them to be willing to take back their citizens.
7. Contingents: offer annual legal migration contingents in return, so that countries such as Senegal, Gambia or Nigeria are ready to agree to new return agreements.
8. Those who arrived in Germany before a set date should be able to acquire residence and work permits. Concentrate deportations on those who pose threats or are criminal.
Implementation of a humane policy – start in the Aegean
The challenge is to find the way now to move from ideas to implementation.
One place to start is in the Aegean, right away. The EU- Turkey agreement is based on these very principles – if it would actually be implemented in full:
– EU provides substantial financial help for refugees in Turkey (1)
– It allows for better control at external (Greek-Turkish) border (2)
– (Voluntary) resettlement of refugees from Turkey to EU (3)
– Sharp decline in deaths in Aegean; everyone rescued in Greek waters is brought to Greece. (4)
– KEY CHALLENGE on Aegean islands: quick and fair decisions on who needs international protection in the EU and who can be returned to Turkey (or offered voluntary return to country of origin) (5)
– Return: Turkey agrees to take back those who do not need international protection in EU if they arrived in Greece after 20 March 2016 (6)
– Mobility: Turkey is offered visa liberalisation in return for full cooperation (while meeting mutually agreed key conditions set out in visa roadmap) (7)
– Cut-off date: the EU-Turkey statement has a cut-off date for returns to Turkey – those who arrived after March 2018 (8)
Implementation of a humane policy: a place for rescuers to take people in Europe
At the same time there is an urgency to find a better way to deal with those rescued now in the Central Mediterraean , and to do so quickly. The ESI’s Malta/Rome/Amsterdam/Sanchez Plan for the Mediterranean would achieve this, and also meet all the objectives and respect all the above principles.
(Two recommendations in the Spiegel article concern development policies in Africa and job creation programs in refugee camps: both go beyond issues we developed in our proposals).