26th Oct 2021

France, Italy, and Germany urge 'fair' sharing of asylum seekers

French, German, and Italian foreign ministers are urging a revamp of EU asylum rules amid a surge of people seeking refuge in Europe.

Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni, and France’s Laurent Fabius in a joint letter say a fairer distribution of asylum seekers is needed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The current refugee crisis is putting the European Union and all of its member states to a historic test. Over the past weeks, this crisis has become even more dramatic,” says the letter, addressed to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

They say those in genuine need of international protection must be granted refugee status.

"A more efficient asylum system for persons in need of international protection goes hand-in-hand with a more efficient repatriation policy of irregular migrants at the EU level, with the aim of granting refugee status rapidly and efficiently to those who are genuinely in need of international protection.”

The European Commission over the summer proposed a system to relocate around 40,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy over a two-year period.

EU leaders had little appetite for the proposal’s mandatory quota system and instead ended up short of the target. Both Hungary and Austria refused to take in any and the UK opted out. Denmark is not involved.

The commission plan also called for a permanent relocation system, which can be triggered at times of crisis. Originally slated for the end of the year, it is now set to be unveiled at a meeting of EU justice ministers on 14 September.

“We are determined to deliver on everything that we promised, pledged, and included in our migration agenda of last May”, EU commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels.

The debate on how to handle the crisis is heating up, with a split emerging between western and eastern member states.

On Friday, Prague is hosting a meeting of the Visegrad Group – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. The four are expected to reject any further plans by the commission to introduce mandatory quotas on asylum.

But the pressure on member states to come up with a coordinated plan is rising as thousands have come to the EU since the start of the year.

Last week, more than 23,000 landed in Greece. Germany in August registered some 100,000 asylum seekers and is set to receive a total of 800,000 for the entire year.

Many are moving through the Western Balkan route and into Hungary. Others are landing in Italy via the sea route.

The final destination for many Syrians is Germany after Berlin softened it approach, meaning Syrians can get their asylum applications processed in Germany and do not have to return to the first EU member state they reached, as normally required by EU rules.

On Wednesday, many were greeted with open arms at Munich train station as volunteers handed out food and water to the new arrivals.

The gesture is in stark contrast to the Czech police who were pictured writing ID numbers onto the forearms of refugees.

Czech authorities on Wednesday have since released all asylum seekers in response to Germany’s decision to lift the point-of-entry rules for Syrians.

“We reacted to the positions of Hungary and Germany. We consider it ineffective to keep these people in detention centres,” a Czech police spokesperson told media.

The call comes amid images of a small Syrian boy, whose body washed up on the shore of beach in Turkey, also on Wednesday.

The child has been identified as three-year old Aylan Kurdi.

EU states want more Belarus sanctions

EU heads of state and government on Friday, at a summit in Brussels, demanded more sanctions against Belarus "as a matter of urgency" and want the European Commission to tweak rules governing borders to tackle "state-sponsored smuggling".


Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

Poland doubles troop numbers on Belarus border

Poland doubled the number of troops to 6,000 on its Belarus border, amid an ongoing standoff with stranded migrants - at least seven of whom have died as temperatures start to plummet.


Frontex: An EU agency gone rogue?

In a Kafka-esque irony, Frontex is withholding public access to documents pertaining to the response of a public institution to a protest by members of the public on grounds that this would violate the "public interest".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. How to break the political deadlock on migration
  2. Hedegaard on the hazards of stalling climate action
  3. Belarus exiles in EU fear regime-linked murderers
  4. No place for Polish 'war' rhetoric, Commission says
  5. Nine countries oppose EU gas market reform
  6. EU-UK impasse on top court in post-Brexit customs talks
  7. Erdoğan orders out US and EU ambassadors
  8. EU banks play 'major role' in deforestation, report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us