Greece and Spain have agreed to accept returns of migrants registered via the Eurodac system and who have reached later Germany, Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced on Friday in Brussels after meetings with prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Pedro Sanchez. In return, Germany will gradually step up family reunifications.
Migrants registered in Greece and Spain picked up at German-Austrian border will be returned to those countries under new deal, the German government announced. This should help Merkel in her battle with anti-migration partner CSU in Bavaria.
Chancellor Merkel confirms bilateral migrant agreements with Spain and Greece
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU summit had taken a decisive step towards a common European asylum policy. “The question is will a deal with Spain and Greece be enough to dampen dissent at home?” asks deutschewelle.
The agreements are temporary measures to stem secondary migration until EU-wide policies take effect.
“What we achieved here together is perhaps more than I had expected,” Merkel told reporters at the end of the summit. Merkel is to inform her coalition allies about the agreement on Friday evening.
“We are not at the end of the road. I always said that we would never be able to agree a common European asylum system here. But the more we agree among ourselves, the closer we get to a possible European solution. I’m convinced of that.”
The tentative agreement with Greece and Spain came on the sidelines of an EU leaders’ summit that reached a breakthrough on migration. It will go into effect once operational details are worked out in the next four week, the Chancellery said.
Admitting widely divergent stances on migration within the EU, she described the agreement as a “right step in the right direction.”
Under the understanding, Greece and Spain would be “ready to take back asylum seekers who in the future are identified by German authorities at the German-Austrian border” and who already have fingerprints in the EU’s asylum database (EURODAC), the German Chancellery said in a statement.
In return, Germany agreed to “gradually complete and close” asylum applications for families in Greece and Spain in order to promote family reunification.
Germany also said EU border states such as Greece and Spain need additional financial help as well as the provision of police and asylum experts.
“We underline that fact that member states at the EU’s external borders need more support, both financially and in terms of providing police and experts on asylum questions,” Steffen Seibert, head of the the German governmental press and information agency, said in a statement.
In addition to seeking a European solution on migration, Merkel has sought to build a “coalition of the willing” consisting of EU states cooperating further on migration issues in the absence of a complete overhaul of the EU’s asylum rules.
Merkel has been in bitter dispute with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and her conservative Bavarian allies CSU who want to turn back migrants already registered in other EU member states.
But Merkel did more than just accept family reunifications, some financial help and asylum experts. She obviously agreed to give Greece a bit more: the suspension of upcoming VAT hikes on 5 islands hit by he refugee crisis.
PS nobody can claim an “EU Common Asylum Policy.” These are merely bilateral agreements between Germany and two leaders of the European South with specific financial status quo.