Reform of asylum policy has divided EU countries for years. Interior Minister Seehofer wanted to break through the blockade during the German presidency of the Council. But EU countries are still at odds.

Even under the German Presidency, EU countries have failed to make decisive progress on key elements of the asylum reform. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) therefore misses his goal of achieving a breakthrough in the project that has been blocked for years. The controversial issue of the distribution of migrants seeking protection in Europe, for example, remains unresolved. There are different views on how “in concrete terms solidarity between European member states should take place” when a country is overburdened, said Parliamentary Under Secretary of the Interior Ministry Stephan Mayer (CSU) on the sidelines of a video conference of the United States on Monday. ministers of the interior of the EU.

Mayer represented Seehofer in the EU consultation because the minister is in quarantine as a precaution due to a possible corona contact. The State Secretary has tried to draw a positive conclusion from the German presidency of the EU Council. With regard to migration issues, they are much more advanced than they were six months ago. They have “put the train on a track” and the “train is definitely heading in the right direction”. The atmosphere of the conversation is much better than it was a few years ago. However, there was hardly any concrete progress on the most important points.

Seehofer: “very good discussions”

Minister Seehofer also spoke of “very good discussions in the past two months”. You leave “a solid foundation” in a statement of his ministry. “There are still many technical questions to be clarified, but there is already agreement on many essential elements of migration policy.”

Since July, Germany has held the regular presidency of the EU countries for six months. That is why Seehofer has led negotiations with his EU colleagues in recent months. In November he was confident that “we can reach a political agreement on the principles of European migration policy by the end of this year”.

Progress report: no solutions to important issues

The German Presidency has now recorded the results of the negotiations in a progress report presented during the deliberations on Monday. The paper clearly shows that there is no solution in sight at the central points. This is especially true of how responsibility for those seeking protection is divided among the EU states. “Some Member States currently see the need for a flexible mechanism, while others see mandatory redistribution in particular as a key element of meaningful solidarity,” the report said.

The EU countries have failed to come up with a common denominator for years. In the current system, the southern countries in particular, where many refugees arrive, are burdened. However, other states, such as Hungary and Poland, refuse to be obliged to accept migrants. To resolve the blockade, the European Commission presented new reform proposals in September. However, these apparently did not bring the breakthrough.

Criticism comes from the Greens

Greens / EFA migration policy spokesman in the European Parliament, Erik Marquardt, criticized the failure to find a solution: “All Horst Seehofer has to show in EU asylum policy is a progress report without progress.” The strategy of the German Council Presidency had failed, the green politician said. She wanted to force a European solution by calling for the suffering at the external borders to be eradicated only if there was a European consensus. Today we still have suffering, chaos and violence against those seeking protection, but still no solution. “

On the other hand, Secretary of State for the Interior, Mayer, said the German progress report shows that it is possible “to define a common core and common interests in many things”. He believes that the fact that the European Commission intends to appoint a return coordinator is an important step forward. In addition, there is a “harmony of interests”, for example when it comes to the return of rejected asylum seekers and voluntary return offers, Mayer said. This consonance also exists with better cooperation with non-EU countries and the strengthening of the protection of the external borders. Moreover, no country has flatly rejected the European Commission’s proposals.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson also praised the “constructive approach” of all EU states. She expected that “clear results” would be achieved in January under the Portuguese Presidency.

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