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Germany Set to Support EU Compromise on Migration Rules

EU countries have so far failed to take a common position on some parts of a planned reform package on migration and asylum.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Thursday said Berlin was ready to agree to a new compromise on the regulation of migration to the European Union in times of crisis.

European Union interior ministers met in Brussels for talks on how to handle people migrating to Europe by sea amid growing concern from member states Italy and Germany.

Berlin had said it was optimistic about reviving a stalled process to share migrants across the borders of the 27-member bloc, as well as a deal with Egypt to stop people crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

What came up for discussion?

Member states and the European Parliament have been negotiating for years to agree far-reaching reforms to the bloc’s common asylum system. However, paralysis in the process has left some member states frustrated.

Faeser told a Brussels meeting of EU counterparts “we will vote in favour” of a compromise text.  

A compromise proposal in June failed to convince right-wing hardliners and Germany’s more progressive government who were unhappy that it would allow member states to lower the protection standards for migrants.

This would be the case particularly when there was a high number of migrants arriving in a country.

Late-night talks were held on Wednesday after Berlin, which some have blamed for holding up the process, signaled that it might be willing to compromise on the issue.

Faeser said there needed to be a strict mechanism on how member states could declare a crisis and introduce emergency protocols when there were large numbers of migrant arrivals.

“We have already come very far in the negotiations overnight. So I am very confident that, in the end, we will have a good result today,” Faeser said as she arrived at a meeting.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson also expressed optimism on Thursday.

“Hopefully today they can agree on the last piece of the pact,” Johansson said as she arrived for the meeting.

Italy and Germany sound alarm

Faeser on Wednesday announced border checks with neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic after Germany noted a rise of nearly 80% in asylum claims this year.

All three countries are part of the Schengen common visa area which allows people to cross borders with security checks, however, several countries, including Germany, have re-introduced security checks at certain border crossings.

Meanwhile, the arrival of thousands of asylum-seekers on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies close to the Tunisian mainland, has heightened the urgency to agree on a revised pact on migration and asylum.

EU-Tunisia migration pact

The bloc’s ministers are to discuss a deal with Egypt that would stop more people leaving the southern shores of the Mediterranean. However, critics have said a recent similar agreement with Tunisia falls short on human rights.

In an interview with DW, Tunisia’s Interior Minister Kamel Fekih said his country could not be “border guards for others.” He made it clear Tunis expects financial assistance for cooperation on migration. 

“We have emphasized from the start that migration can not be managed without tackling its causes,” he said. “Tunisia is in a difficult [economic] situation and not able to house the high number of migrants from countries south of the Sahara and the Sahel.”  

The deal has drawn criticism from some quarters because of the way the North African country has treated migrants.

The leader of the main center-right grouping in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, told DW there is “no alternative” to a controversial agreement with Tunisia.

When asked whether he was bothered by the mounting evidence of migrants being treated in an abusive way, Weber said: “That is bothering us, totally, absolutely.”

“I spoke also about these issues with the partners there. But again, what is the alternative to find a common approach?”

Source : DW