Migrant crisis: Germany moves to cut asylum claims

  • 28 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
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German police question migrants in Passau. Photo: 27 January 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Germany is struggling to deal with a growing number of asylum seekers

Germany has unveiled plans to add Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to its list of safe countries, as it tries to curb growing numbers of migrants.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said nationals from those countries would now be unlikely to be granted asylum.

The move is part of new measures aimed at tightening rules in a country which last year received more than 1.1 million asylum seekers.

Earlier, 26 migrants drowned off a Greek island after their boat capsized.

The migrants died near the island of Samos, near Turkey. Ten of the victims were children.

In other developments:

  • Six bodies were discovered by the Italian navy in a sinking dinghy off the Libyan coast
  • The Netherlands proposed sending migrants reaching Greece back to Turkey by ferry
  • Sweden said as many as 80,000 people who arrived to the country last year could fail in their requests for asylum and face deportation

Migrant crisis: Who does the EU send back?

Strained relations

Mr Gabriel's comments came after his Social Democrats held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union.

"The mood is good," Mr Gabriel was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Morocco has already responded to the proposal, saying it would repatriate any of its nationals who had arrived illegally in Germany.

The German coalition partners also agreed that migrants with restricted asylum status would be unable to bring relatives into the country for two years.

The deportation of failed asylum seekers would also be speeded up.

The migrant issue has been straining the coalition, with the CSU threatening to take Mrs Merkel's government to court if the party's demand to stem the flow of asylum seekers is not dealt with decisively.

The coalition proposals still need to be approved by the government and parliament.

Where Europe is failing on migrants

  • The 28 member states have not agreed on an EU-wide mechanism for relocating migrants, to ease the burden on Greece and Italy; only small groups have been relocated so far - and several states in Central and Eastern Europe refuse to accept migrants
  • The Schengen agreement on freedom of movement is in jeopardy - Hungary fenced off its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia; meanwhile Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France have also reimposed border controls
  • The Dublin regulation, under which refugees are required to claim asylum in the member state in which they first arrive, is not working effectively; countries are no longer sending back migrants to their first point of entry to the EU
  • Thousands of migrants - many of them Syrian war refugees - still arrive daily from Turkey
  • Processing of asylum applications is slow and there is a big backlog - so reception centres are overcrowded
  • Germany - the main destination for migrants - is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults on women in Cologne at New Year