5th Mar 2021

Germany and France criticise EU migration plan

  • Syrian refugee on flight to Germany (Photo:

Germany and France on Monday (1 June) dealt a blow to the European Commission's plans to relocate asylum seekers in EU countries.

In a common statement, the two countries' interior ministers said they could not accept the commission's proposal in its current form.

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"The temporary relocation mechanism must be based on two equally important principles: responsibility and solidarity. We think the balance between thee two principles is not yet reached," Thomas de Maiziere and Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"Increased solidarity is only possible if all member states of first entry which are responsible for EU external borders take, with the support of the EU budget, all legal and financial necessary measures to reinforce external borders," they added.

On 27 May, migration commissioner Dmitri Avramopoulos unveiled a plan to relocate 40,000 Eritrean and Syrian asylum seekers in EU countries over a two-year period.

Under the plans, asylum seekers would be distributed to member states according to a key taking into account factors such as national wealth or unemployment rates.

Germany and France would be asked to accept, respectively, 8,763 and 6,752 people.

The plan is to be discussed by EU interior ministers mid-June and EU leaders at their summit on 25 June.

The EU commission downplayed the statement, saying it welcomed the fact that Germany and France take a common position on the issue.

"We are not surprised at all that member states want to discuss the repartition key," Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said at the daily press briefing.

"We are open to discussion. We're waiting for the ministers' meeting on 15 June to discuss the different elements in the proposal," she said, adding that if ministers do not agree on the plan it will not be implemented on 1 July as announced.

Berlin and Paris say they are ready to consider the commission's proposal if relocation remains a "temporary and exeptional" mechanism and if the repartition key is "agreed and fair".

They ask that asylum applications are examined in "hotspots" established in countries of first entry and that "illegal migrants are quickly sent back or sent away".

This procedure is part of the Commission's plan but France and Germany insist that current rules should not be changed.

"Member states, the EU asylum support office, Frontex and the European commission must support implementation of this process through concret measures, fully using the existing legal framework," de Maiziere and Cazeneuve wrote.

Germany and France, with Sweden, Italy and Hungary "share 75 percent of asylum applications", the two ministers noted in their statement.

"This situation is not sustainable anymore," they said.

They also said that the current rules, under which states where migrants first enter the EU must process the asylum application, should "continue to prevail".

Countries like Italy, Greece and Malta, where most of the migrants arrive by boat, have asked for "burden sharing" and a revision of the so-called Dublin regulation.

"We are strongly attached [to the Dublin regulation], because it is an essential element of the balance of the Schengen area without internal borders," the German and French ministers said.

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