Thursday

9th Apr 2020

Germany gets its way on immigration policy

Last minute changes to the draft EU constitution have seen Germany get its wish for immigration policy to remain in the hands of the member states.

The Convention's steering committee bowed to pressure from Berlin where the Social Democrat coalition government is fighting with the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) over the issue.

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The CDU, which holds a majority in the Bundesrat or upper house, had heavily criticised the previous draft, which it considered as giving too much power to the EU on immigration.

Now the revised text says that the article on immigration policy shall not affect the rights of each member state to set the number of immigrants coming from third countries.

This is a substantial win for the centre right opposition. When asked whether the changes made had anything to do with German domestic politics, the convention spokesman replied: "Ask the question to Mr Stoiber". Edmund Stoiber is leader of the CDU's sister party in Bavaria.

Germany's turn around on the issue came very late in the day. At the beginning of June Joschka Fischer, foreign minister and government representative in the Convention, first concretely aired the reversal on immigration policy.

On Friday (4 July) at the last plenary session, he reiterated the call. A general shift to qualified majority voting in the area "would be unfeasible", he said.

The steering committee did not make any changes to the areas of fiscal policy and common foreign and security policy - here, as before, the power remains in the hands of the Member States.

The Convention plenary as a whole will meet on Wednesday (9 July) at 3pm to discuss the latest changes to the text.

Thursday will be left for signatures of the final document and a final 'family photo' of the 105-member convention who have been working on the text for the last 16 months.

Convention president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing will then hand over the final draft treaty to the Italian presidency on 18 July in Rome.

Rome pushes for immigration quotas

Italy’s interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu reiterated the wish to have European quotas on the number of immigrants coming from third countries. But the majority of EU countries want to leave this issue in their hands.

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