BERLIN – Germany’s Interior Minister said on Sunday that Berlin wants to reinstate EU rules which oblige asylum seekers to be sent back to the first EU country they reached. Most EU asylum seekers originally landed in Greece or Italy.
“I would like the Dublin Convention to be applied again,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
The Dublin Convention gives responsibility for asylum seekers’ application to the first country they reach. The accord once applied, would return to Greece, more than a million migrants, who arrived in the EU last year.
Furthermore, the Dublin Regulation requires asylum seekers be sent back to the first country they arrived in, even if they subsequently reach another EU state. This must occur before their case is examined. A significant proportion of the migrants ended up in Germany.
“We will take up discussions on this in a meeting with [EU] interior ministers later in October,” de Maiziere told the Greek daily Kathimerini.
The Dublin Regulation has been suspended for Greece since 2011, after the country lost an EU legal complaint which condemned the mistreatment of migrants seeking international protection.
“Since then, the EU has provided substantial support, not only financially, to Greece to improve its asylum seeker procedures,” de Maiziere said.
The German Interior Minister stressed that he was conscious of “the strong [likely negative] reactions of Greeks,” as well as the huge number of migrants being dealt with by Greece as an EU frontline state.
“But that doesn’t annul the need to reinstate the Dublin rules,” he said.
According to the minister, Germans are increasingly critical of their government for not enforcing the Dublin Convention. Germany’s Interior Ministry recently revised the number of asylum seekers who arrived in Germany last year to 890,000 – down from a previous estimate of 1.1 million.
De Maiziere has reiterated Berlin’s commitment to take in its share of refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy. “Germany is ready to welcome up to 500 people per month from the two countries,” he said.
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter