Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

Norway turns back migrants without visas

  • Norway wants to toughen asylum rules to make the country less attractive for migrants. (Photo: Alexander Shchukin)

Norway proposed on Tuesday (29 December) to tighten the country's asylum rules, including turning back asylum seekers without visas arriving from the passport-free Schengen zone, especially from Sweden.

The draft law, still to be adopted by the parliament, is meant to be "one of Europe's toughest" immigration rules, according to the right leaning government.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The measures, aimed at making Norway less attractive for refugees and migrants, include making it more difficult for refugees to bring family members to Norway, by only allowing family reunifications after the applicant has acquired four years of work or education in the country.

The proposed measures would also make it more difficult to claim welfare benefits, which will be based on a voucher system rather than cash allowances, to avoid people sending money back home, and to raise the requirements for permanent residence permits.

It would also start turning back people who would like to enter Norway from another country of the passport-free Schengen zone without a visa, and migrants who arrived on transit visas via Russia would also not be granted asylum.

Norway is not a member of the EU, but is a party to the Schengen area, which has no passport or border controls.

Most of the at least 30,000 people seeking asylum in Norway this year have crossed the border from Sweden.

In recent weeks, the country has seen fewer arrivals, partly because of the reintroduction of border controls in neighbouring Sweden and the cold winter weather.

The proposed measures have come under fire from rights groups, saying that it only creates a bottleneck situation in Greece and Italy, where most people enter Europe and then move on to the country where they actually seek asylum.

"It is very serious that politicians are using punitive measures that would make life more difficult for a number of asylum-seekers who are entitled to protection," Andreas Furuseth, of the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers, was quoted by AP news agency.

However, Norway's new immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug of the right-wing Progress Party, the junior coalition partner, argues that the new law will improve the lives of legal immigrants.

She told the NTB news agency the tough rules were "necessary so that we can welcome those who come here, settle them in and integrate them."

Less attractive

Listhaug also said that tightening the country's asylum rules was necessary to avoid “violent consequences” for the welfare system, AP reported.

Refugees are entitled to many of the same welfare benefits as Norwegians in the Nordic country, whose offshore oil and gas resources have made it one of the world’s richest on a per-capita basis.

This year more than 30,000 people sought international protection in Norway, a country of 5 million inhabitants.

Listhaug said 10,000 to 100,000 people were expected to apply for asylum in Norway in 2016. “If we are anywhere near the latter number it could have violent consequences for our welfare society,” the minister was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB.

Earlier this month, Norway created a special ministry dedicated to migration issues. At the time, prime minister Erna Solberg said the numbers of immigrants had put “too much pressure” on justice minister Anders Anundsen.

According to AP, before her appointment as immigration minister on December 16, Listhaug, then the agriculture minister, had criticised what she called a "tyranny of kindness that is blowing over Norwegian society like a nightmare".

Currently, Norway grants asylum on a wider basis than those considered refugees under UN standards.

Opinion

Sweden must be able to say No to refugees

Swedish people should open their brains, not just their hearts, on refugees. The harsh logic is that we're failing to integrate people, because we can't provide decent jobs.

Sweden reintroduces border controls

Sweden becomes fourth EU and Schengen state to introduce emergency border controls, citing overwhelming migrant numbers. Denmark could be next.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us