Germany criticises late change to EU migrant reforms

The EU has approved changes to its asylum policy but a late amendment is now on the table. The German foreign minister warned Berlin won't back plans to allow more flexibility during periods of large-scale migration.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday called for the European Union's reform of migration policy, which was finalised in the summer, to be implemented quickly. Baerbock wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the long-awaited changes to the EU's Common European Asylum System could finally bring more orderly migration to the bloc.

Berlin can't support crisis regulation plan 


But she said she was unhappy that the European Commission – the EU's executive arm – now wanted to add a so-called crisis regulation to the pact. If adopted, the amendment would allow for more flexibility if Europe were to face a large surge in migrant and refugee arrivals, such as the 2015 migration crisis.

Baerbock warned that the crisis regulation would create incentives for other EU states to forward refugees to Germany without registering them first. She said this could put further strain on German public sector resources at the local level.

"Instead of orderly procedures, the wide discretion that the current proposal for a crisis regulation grants ... would again de facto create incentives for forwarding large numbers of unregistered refugees to Germany," Baerbock wrote on X. She said the German government could not support such rule.

Germany and France receive most asylum claims


Many migrants and refugees arrive in southern European countries having crossed the Mediterranean and often move to Germany and other more prosperous EU states in the north. Under the EU's asylum rules, migrants should have their asylum claims processed in the country in which they first arrive.

After more than a decade of growing irregular migration to Europe, the Common European Asylum System was finalised in 2011 to create a fair and efficient asylum policy across the EU. 

Irregular migration intensified in 2015 when more than a million migrants – fleeing war in Syria and Iraq – landed on Europe's shores over a relatively short period of time.

The reforms to the asylum rules aim to set clear procedures to prevent abuse of the system, which includes speeding up assessments about unfounded or inadmissible asylum applications at the EU's external borders.

Rome hits out at Berlin support for migrant rescue boats


Meanwhile, Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto on Sunday criticised the German government's support for non-profit organisations that help rescue boat migrants in the Mediterranean. In an interview with La Stampa newspaper, Crosetto spoke of "very serious" behaviour. "Berlin ... is getting a country in trouble with which it is theoretically 'friendly'," he said.

Crosetto is a politician from the ultra-right governing party Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), also the party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Its smaller coalition partner The League has also criticised Germany over the matter.

The issue of migration and the work of private German aid organisations in the Mediterranean has long been a source of tension between Rome and Berlin, even under previous Italian governments. German media reported that two organisations will soon receive several hundred thousand euros each in government aid, a measure approved by Germany's parliament.

Rome considers Germany's actions to be interference in its domestic affairs. Meloni has vowed to reduce the number of migrants arriving by boat in Italy. However, more than 130,000 arrivals have been registered since the beginning of the year, twice as many as in the same period in 2022.

After 8,500 people arrived on the tiny island of Lampedusa within just three days earlier this month, Meloni demanded the European Union do more to help relieve the pressure.    (AFP/dpa)