Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

EU asylum backlog would take 1 year to clear

  • Malta-based EASO estimates 778,800 pending cases (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On the eve of a summit in Malta’s capital city Valletta, on slowing the flow of migrants from Africa to the EU, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) dropped a new figure.

The Malta-based agency on Tuesday (10 November) estimated it would take at least one year to process the backlog of some 778,800 pending asylum cases throughout the EU even if all new applications stopped tomorrow.

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Around one-third of the backlog includes people who’ve been waiting at least six months for a decision.

Most of those cases are from the Western Balkans, where nationals have a less than one percent success rate.

Germany is under the most pressure, with an asylum system clogged by Western Balkan nationals.

At the end of August, Germany had 346,000 people waiting for a decision, according to the EU’s statistical office Eurostat. The main nationalities include Syrians, Albanians, Kosovars, and Serbians.

It means Germany is using its resources to processing claims of people who have next to no chance of getting protection.

But EASO notes the demand from the Western Balkans is slowing. Just 15,000 applied for asylum in September, representing a drop.

The EASO announcement came on the heels of a speech in Valletta by EU council chief Donald Tusk.

"EU governments are reviewing over 1 million asylum applications between them, an all-time record number that would test any developed democracy,” he said.

He noted the EU has dedicated five summits to migration since April.

The impact of discussions includes political infighting and a relocation scheme which has redistributed just 147 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states.

The relocation target is 160,000 over the next two years, but the slow pace has prompted EU capitals to look for new ideas.

EU interior ministers in Brussels on Monday floated plans to set up “processing centres” in Western Balkan transit countries to help with registration and finger printing.

Meanwhile, the inflow to Germany has generated an internal struggle between chancellor Angela Merkel and coalition partners.

In August, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees suspended Dublin transfers for Syrians. It meant Syrians who reached Germany would be processed there and not returned to the EU member state where they first entered.

The move was followed by a surge of people, which sparked border disputes between Austria and Hungary.

But on Tuesday, Germany’s government announced it would re-implement so-called Dublin rules on Syrian nationals in a policy U-turn.

No transit zones on German borders for now

German coalition partners have layed differences to rest over transit zones on the border, with a deal on reception centres inside Germany and faster asylum decisions.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

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