A joint European refugee and migration policy

Entrance to a tent in a refugee camp in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon

Entrance to a tent in a refugee camp in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, © Thomas Trutschel / photothek.net

20.09.2021 - Article

Global refugee and migration flows have assumed new dimensions in recent years. European solutions are needed for sustainable refugee and migration policy.

The Common European Asylum System

The Dublin Regulation sets out the member states’ responsibilities for asylum

A girl in the refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan
A girl in the refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan© photothek.net

procedures. The arrival of large numbers of people seeking protection in recent years has revealed the shortcomings in the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The German Government therefore advocates reform on the basis of shared responsibility and solidarity, with the aim of establishing a more efficient European asylum system that is crisis‑proof and founded on solidarity. In September 2020 the European Commission presented comprehensive proposals in a new Migration and Asylum Package that contains both adapted and new acts, some of them following on from the Dublin Regulation. This reform package is currently being negotiated among the member states. The key question, as before, is how to balance out the responsibility of countries of first entry – particularly with regard to binding border control procedures – and burden‑sharing based on the principle of solidarity between the EU member states, particularly through the distribution of those seeking protection. While some EU member states reject the compulsory distribution of refugees, others, including the countries of first entry, are calling for the burden to be shared more equally.

In addition, it is important to establish a regulated, transparent procedure within the European Union for disembarking and distributing people rescued at sea. Given the differing interests in Europe, this remains difficult.

Further information on the development of European asylum policy is available on the website of the European Commission.

Cooperation with countries of origin and transit

Global refugee and migration flows can only be managed and steered by working together with the countries of origin and transit. To this end, a groundbreaking summit was held in Valletta, Malta, in November 2015 between the EU, the heads of government of the EU member states and the heads of government of 34 African countries at which the participants agreed to work more closely together on migration. The Joint Valletta Action Plan adopted at this summit remains an important compass today and covers five focal areas:

  • reducing the causes of irregular migration and displacement;
  • promoting legal ways to migrate;
  • protecting migrants and refugees;
  • preventing irregular migration and combating human trafficking;
  • improving cooperation on returns, readmission and reintegration.

The Action Plan is implemented as part of the Rabat and Khartoum Processes – the two central dialogue processes between the EU and Africa in the field of migration. The external dimension of European refugee and migration policy is another central element of the European Commission’s proposals for a new Migration and Asylum Package. The EU’s cooperation with important countries of origin, transit countries and host countries is to be intensified through balanced, tailored partnerships. This includes conflict prevention and stabilisation, promoting the rule of law and good governance, enhancing economic prospects, protecting refugees along the routes, establishing asylum systems, combating traffickers, promoting voluntary return and reintegration programmes and developing legal ways to migrate. Further information on the EU’s migration dialogues is available here.

Under the EU Resettlement Programme, Germany is making a substantial contribution in taking in particularly vulnerable refugees from third countries. In 2020/2021, Germany has provided up to 6800 places for Resettlement, the humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey as well as Land refugee programmes.

The European Union is providing financial support for refugees and migration from its Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 via the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe). Indicative planning earmarks 10% of the overall funding of approx. €79.5 bn for the area of displacement and migration. The aim is to address issues such as the causes of displacement and irregular migration, forced migration, the creation of conditions for legal migration and mobility, the expansion of border management and the fight against human trafficking more and more intensively. Furthermore, so‑called Team Europe initiatives (TEIs) are being developed in the sphere of displacement and migration, with the EU working with member states, their implementing organisations and development banks, as well as European financial institutions, to shape their funding and policy approaches.

A functioning asylum and refugee policy involves not only providing the necessary protection, but also repatriating people who are not granted permission to stay. Germany is helping the EU to improve cooperation on repatriation with the countries of origin and transit. The EU has also signed readmission agreements with third countries. These agreements oblige third countries to readmit people who have entered the EU illegally from their countries and whose application for protective status, if they have submitted one, has been rejected.

Legal Migration

Opening up ways to migrate to the EU legally makes it easier for workers to come to Europe. This helps to combat population decline in Europe and creates incentives for qualified migrants. Given the lack of skilled workers and demographic developments, such people are needed in Germany and Europe. At the same time, this policy helps combat human trafficking and people smuggling.

In the field of legal migration, the EU sets out directives for granting visas and residence permits and lays down rules for family reunification which can be further shaped by the member states, particularly for longer stays. The EU has also introduced a combined residence permit for highly qualified workers from third countries in the form of the Blue Card directive, which makes it easier to post managers and makes access to the German labour market easier for highly skilled professionals with the EU Blue Card. Further information on legal migration to the EU is available on the website of the European Commission.

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