Berlin – German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has been talking about his “migration master plan” for as long as he has been in the post. On Tuesday, he finally presented the long-awaited 63-point document.
The final draft was completed on July 4, meaning it does not include a compromise deal subsequently drawn up between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), the more conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Seehofer, who leads the Bavaria-based CSU, had originally hoped to unveil his master plan four weeks ago, but delayed this due to Merkel’s concerns about plans to unilaterally turn some migrants away at the German border. Here’s what made it through to the final version:
The plan suggests that the German word “Anker” can be read as a portmanteau of the terms “Ankunft, Entscheidung, Rueckfuehrung” (arrival, decision, return).
Seehofer first floated the idea of anchor centres, sites in Germany where asylum seekers will be kept until their right to stay is determined, in April.
The aim is for the entire asylum process to be completed in these centres, with all the relevant government authorities and legal facilities present. Few of Germany’s 16 states have thus far shown enthusiasm for the idea.
In the case of convicted criminals, offers of asylum in Germany will be carefully investigated. If an asylum seeker claims to be under threat in their home country, but nevertheless returns there during the procedure, their application will be void.
Asylum seekers will have to be take a more active role in verifying their identity. Those failing to participate fully in integration courses will have to face consequences.
Accelerated legal proceedings:
Many asylum seekers currently appeal against decisions, often successfully. Seehofer wants improved staffing for the courts and also to find options for speeding up the proceedings. In addition, those seeking protection could have to pay some of the costs in future.
Less secondary migration:
Seehofer aims to put a stop to migrants moving within the EU, in particular to Germany. To this end, all the “necessary internal legal and administrative measures” should be taken, the plan says.
Negotiations with other EU member states on transferring asylum seekers should be intensified, it adds. The German government intends to support countries receiving the migrants.
The European Union’s external borders should be better protected, the document says. Migrants rescued in the Mediterranean could be taken to “disembarkation platforms” in North Africa as suggested at a recent EU summit, it suggests.
No North African country has thus far shown itself willing to a set up centres of this kind on its territory. Migrants who make it to EU territory are to be taken to “controlled facilities” but where these are to be set up and what form they should take remains unclear.
Migrants arriving at the German-Austrian border who have already made application for asylum in another EU country are to be held in “transit centres” for at most 48 hours.
Seehofer has retained the contentious term, despite the compromise deal struck with the SPD, which flatly rejects it. Returning the migrants in question requires agreement with the relevant EU countries, and this still has to be negotiated by Seehofer.
Aid to countries of origin:
Seehofer is taking up an idea from his cabinet colleague, Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Mueller, a fellow CSU member, for a “Marshall Plan for Africa” aimed at improving economic conditions in particular partner countries so that potential migrants choose not to leave.