Friday

22nd Jan 2021

EU migration system relies on despots, Schäuble says

The president of Germany's parliament has said that on migration the EU has no choice but to work with despotic regimes - and suggested the possibility of offshoring detention.

The comments were made by Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's hawkish former finance minister, who took on the role as Bundestag president in 2017.

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

Speaking at a conference on Thursday (19 November) co-organised by the German EU presidency and the European Parliament, Schauble also said that the EU deal with Turkey "really didn't work out".

That 2016 deal sought to keep refugees from leaving Turkey to the Greek islands, in exchange for billions of EU funds to Ankara and other political concessions.

"We need to recognise that we are reliant on cooperation with dubious powers and regimes in the areas of transit and origin," said Schäuble, without citing specific countries.

He further noted that people with no right for asylum and who cannot be returned home may have to be sent "to facilities outside of Europe," an idea that echoes positions held by Hungary's right-wing leadership.

Schäuble is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the largest in the Bundestag and that of Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel.

He did make the case that lives need to be saved in the Mediterranean Sea.

Schäuble then called for more cooperation with North African and sub-Saharan states, saying migration pressures will only increase due to poverty, climate, and demographic change.

"Since 2015, we haven't actually made much progress in terms of substance," he also said, contradicting past narratives of a European Commission desperate to overhaul EU-wide asylum and migration laws.

Those overhaul efforts are now under the aegis of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who unveiled a long-awaited new pact on asylum and migration in September.

"The current system no longer works," confirmed von der Leyen, who was also speaking at the conference.

She then announced the commission is unveiling plans next week on how to better integrate migrants - a proposal that comes on the heels of a heated political debate in France.

"People who come to Europe legally need clear rights and they need to feel welcomed," she said, noting education schemes with other countries will be a factor.

But such plans are often also used as leverage to squeeze other concessions - especially when dealing with so-called readmission agreements, whereby countries are required to take back their own national citizens.

The point was driven by EU home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson.

"If we can't return those who are staying illegally in the European Union, it will be more difficult to build legal pathways. So these are linked to each other," she said at the conference.

EU migration pact to deter asylum

The EU commission's newest pact on migration and asylum seeks to deter people from claiming asylum by speeding up procedures and sending most of them back home.

Podcast

Honesty is the best policy

Politicians mostly talk about shutting migrants out. That endangers migrants' lives and obscures an important truth: that Europe already relies on large numbers of migrants for farming and manufacturing.

EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex

MEPs are drumming up support for an inquiry into the EU's controversial border and coast guard agency, Frontex. So far, the Greens, the left-wing GUE, and Renew Europe are on board - amid expectations the centre-left S&D will also join.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

EU watchdog launches probe on Croat border violence

The European Ombudsman is launching a case into the lack of proper oversight by the European Commission when it comes to how fundamental rights of migrants and refugees are allegedly being violated by Croat border police.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us