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

21.02.2024 - Article

Global refugee and migration flows have increased continuously in recent years. European solutions are needed for a sustainable refugee and migration policy.

The Common European Asylum System

Girl playing in Samos refugee camp
Girl playing in Samos refugee camp© picture alliance / NurPhoto | Nicolas Economou

The Dublin Regulation sets out the member states’ responsibilities for asylum procedures. The arrival of large numbers of people seeking protection in recent years has revealed the shortcomings in the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the resulting need for reform. The German Government 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 Pact on Migration and Asylum that contains both adapted and new acts, some of them replacing the Dublin Regulation. The reform package is at an advanced stage of the European legislative process. Of crucial significance is finding a balance between the responsibility of countries of first entry – for example with regard to procedures and registration at the external borders – and solidarity among the EU member states, for instance through the distribution of those seeking protection. After the reform has been adopted, the main focus of the German Government will be on implementing it humanely in line with European law.

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 landmark 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 regular 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 being implemented as part of the Rabat and Khartoum Processes – the two central platforms for dialogue between the EU and Africa in the field of migration. Germany is actively involved in both processes. In 2023, Germany assumed the chair of the Steering Committee of the Khartoum Process, which is responsible for operational management, for one year.

The external dimension of European refugee and migration policy is another central element of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, launched in 2020. 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 programmes for voluntary return and reintegration and developing and encouraging better use of regular ways to migrate.

Under the EU Resettlement Framework, Germany is making a substantial contribution in taking in particularly vulnerable people from third countries. In 2023, Germany took in a total of 4110 people seeking protection via resettlement, including the resettlement programmes of the Länder and the humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey, within this framework.

The European Union is providing financial support for refugees and migration from its Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 via the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe). Some ten percent of the NDICI’s total budget of 79.5 billion euro is available for migration-related projects. The aim is to address issues such as the causes of displacement and irregular migration, violent displacement, the creation of conditions for regular migration and mobility, the expansion of border management and the fight against human trafficking more intensively.

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 return with the countries of origin and transit. The EU has also signed readmission agreements with third countries to this end. These agreements oblige third countries to readmit people who have entered the EU illegally from their territory and whose asylum application, if they have submitted one, has been rejected.

Regular Migration

Opening up regular ways to migrate to the EU makes it easier for workers to come to Europe and reduces the need for and risks of irregular migration. 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 regular migration, the EU sets out directives for granting visas and residence permits and lays down rules for family reunification that can be further shaped by the member states, particularly for longer stays. In November 2023, the revised Blue Card Directive entered into force in order to encourage highly qualified workers to migrate to the EU. In Germany, the EU Blue Card residence permit is the most used format for skilled workers. Likewise, the ICT Directive facilitates in-company secondment of managers and specialists. With a reform of the Skilled Immigration Act in 2023, Germany modernised and simplified the regulations once again.


Top of page