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28/09/2016

Surprising Greens stance on the refugee crisis

Justice & Home Affairs

Surprising Greens stance on the refugee crisis

A package of asylum measures will go to a vote at the German Bundestag, Green MPs are expected to vote in favour.

[Montecruz FOTO/Flickr]

The German Greens have added their voice to the debate on the refugee crisis. Some unexpected approaches have been discussed. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens-European Free Alliance, has spoken out about effective controls at the EU’s external borders.

A binding quota system for the distribution of refugees among the member states “assumes that the EU states can control how immigration takes places”, she told Der Tagesspiegel.

The so-called hot-spots for refugee registration on the EU external borders must “be part of an organised European Union strategy”, said the Green politician. However, it must be ensured that these registration centres do not become mere “dead ends” for refugees.

Rather, anyone seeking protection should be made aware of the process of distribution throughout Europe.

Greens MEP Sven Giegold also said that securing the external borders and removing border controls within the Schengen area are two sides of the same coin.

“Properly organised borders include the right to safe access to asylum and protection,” he added.

This unfamiliar stance on the refugee crisis does not just originate just from Harms. Her party colleague, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, a member of the German Bundestag, recently warned against “casually” integrating refugees.

“Our country is going to change,” she said. This will mean “hardships, conflicts and further crises.”

>>Read: German president warns of limits to number of refugees

At EU level, interior ministers agreed last week, via majority decision, on the distribution of 120,000 refugees among the member states.

EU leaders then decided that further “hot spots” would be set up in Italy and Greece before the end of November.

Refugees will be registered in these locations through the help of EU officials. Their claim to asylum will be examined, as well.

It is still unclear how people who are unsuccessful in their application will be deported back to their countries of origin.

>>Read: Polish extreme right bares its teeth

A year ago, the German political scene was shocked by the Greens’ approach to refugee policy. Last autumn, the decision of Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, to agree to an extension of the list of “safe countries” was derided by many in his own party.

In mid-October, voting will be held in the German Bundestag and Bundesrat on an asylum package, including a further extension of the safe countries list.

This time around, most Green-controlled regions are expected to accept the measures, in return for concessions in other areas.