In a recent development, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has called for Germany to tighten its immigration policies in order to address the issue of illegal migration. Schallenberg’s warning comes amidst concerns that if the European Union (EU) does not take adequate measures to strengthen its external border security and increase deportations, governments could collapse.
According to the European Union Agency for Asylum, there has been a significant increase in the number of asylum applications in the EU this year, with over half a million people applying in the first half of the year. Additionally, the number of illegal immigrants entering the bloc has risen by 18% in the first eight months of 2023, according to Frontex, the EU’s border agency.
As several countries in the EU have started adopting stricter immigration policies, such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland agreeing to cooperate on increasing deportation flights, Schallenberg emphasizes the need for Germany to take similar action. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has already announced plans to deport those who have no right to stay in Germany. However, a bill enabling this measure needs to be approved by parliament.
The issue of migration has had a significant impact on German politics, leading to a decline in support for Scholz’s party, the SPD. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has overtaken the SPD, with the AfD polling five points ahead, as reported by Politico. Polls and surveys have indicated that a majority of Germans are concerned about migration, with many expressing a desire to limit refugee admissions and an opinion that the government is not deporting enough migrants.
Schallenberg highlights that the issue of deportations is crucial in the asylum and migration system. The failure to deport individuals who do not have the right to reside in the EU undermines the system’s credibility. The German Interior Ministry revealed that approximately 205,000 out of around 255,000 individuals in Germany who were obligated to leave the country could not legally be deported.
Increasing the number of deportations, however, presents challenges as bilateral agreements must be struck with migrants’ countries of origin to accept their return. To overcome this obstacle, Schallenberg suggests that EU leaders should use leverage by threatening to suspend preferential tariffs, visa agreements, and development aid. This approach was recommended by Greece last year, advocating for sanctions on countries that refuse to accept their deported citizens.
In conclusion, the rise in asylum applications and illegal migration in the EU has prompted calls for stricter immigration policies. Austria’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, has specifically urged Germany to take measures against illegal migration. The issue of deportations has emerged as a significant challenge, with a large number of individuals unable to be legally deported. Addressing this issue requires bilateral agreements with migrants’ home countries, and the use of leverage to incentivize cooperation. The ongoing discussions and actions in response to this issue highlight the importance of finding effective and comprehensive solutions to manage migration in the EU.