Thursday

18th Oct 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.

Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

EU leaders at the summit in Brussels want partnerships with north African states that go beyond migration. But internal EU reforms on asylum, especially sharing of migrants and refugees between member states, remain stuck.

Austria EU presidency seeks 'mandatory solidarity' on Dublin

EU interior ministers are meeting in Luxembourg this Friday to discuss migration. The Austrian EU presidency is hoping to reach a consensus on Dublin reforms and a concept of 'mandatory solidarity' after briefing 27 EU states bilaterally over the summer.

Libyan militia cash in on EU's anti-smuggling strategy

More people in Libya are being inducted into slavery as people-traffickers try to monetise their investment by selling them. A senior UN refugee agency official described it as an unintended side effect of the reduction of migrant boat departures.

Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate

Issues of sovereignty remain entrenched following a proposal by the European Commission to expand the EU's border and coast guard, also known as Frontex, to 10,000. But EU leaders maintain a "basic consensus" of support had been reached.

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