In view of the rising influx of refugees, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert has called for greater solidarity within the EU. The Dublin Regulation applies to all member states, he pointed out. The Dublin system stipulates that asylum-seekers must be registered in the state through which they first entered the EU.
"The rising influx of refugee is a European issue. We should tackle it within Europe in a spirit of solidarity," said government spokesperson Steffen Seibert at the government press conference. "Everywhere in Europe we will be calling for common solutions based on solidarity," he stressed. Germany is complying with existing EU legal provisions and expects the other EU member states to do likewise.
The Dublin Regulation stipulates, among other things, that asylum-seekers must be registered in the country through which they first enter the European Union. The Regulation determines which country is responsible for the application for asylum. This is designed to ensure that the facts of each application for asylum are verified by only one member state. An interview is conducted with the applicant to determine which member state is responsible.
Should it emerge that the application for asylum must be processed by another member state, a request is submitted to that state to assume or resume responsibility for processing the application. Where this state agrees, the applicant is informed. Then the member states will generally agree on the details of the transfer. The procedure is based on the Dublin III Regulation.
It stipulates that asylum-seekers must submit an application for asylum in the EU member state through which they first entered the EU. Registration and processing of the request for asylum must also be undertaken in that country.
"We are working to help Europe achieve common solutions in the spirit of solidarity," said Steffen Seibert. The Dublin Regulation naturally applies to all EU member states. "We have European regulations governing asylum, and that is Dublin III," said the government spokesperson.
However, it is plain to see that some countries are currently ignoring certain aspects of Dublin III. "As Europeans we must endeavour to achieve a solution in which all of us who are involved in European asylum and refugee policy return to a position in line with existing legal provisions," Steffen Seibert added.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees had earlier decided as a general rule that Syrians requesting asylum would not be returned to other member states of the European Union. Refugees who had already arrived in other signatory states of the Dublin Regulation were thus able to continue to Germany without any further obstruction. This triggered public debate about compliance with the Dublin Regulation.
Germany will do all it can to help Europe raise a common response to the huge challenge posed by the refugee crisis, said Steffen Seibert. Some of the approaches he mentioned were initial reception points (or hot spots), a common definition of safe countries of origin, harmonised policy on returning unsuccessful applicants, and common measures to tackle the root causes of migration and to tackle criminal trafficking in people.
Steffen Seibert made it quite clear that "Germany has not suspended Dublin. The Dublin Regulation is still the applicable law." The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has merely simplified procedures.
The fundamental right to asylum is one of the most important principles that must guide our action in this situation. We have a clear commitment to the right to asylum, as laid out in the German Basic Law or constitution, said Steffen Seibert.
After a special meeting of the Internal Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced that decisions would be taken swiftly on the refugee issue. Changes to the law are to be dealt with together as an overall package. He also expanded on this in the German television programme "Was nun, Herr de Maizière ?" (What now Mr de Maizière) broadcast on ZDF.
The package is to be adopted by the Coalition Committee this coming Sunday and by the meeting of federal and state governments on 24 September. The entire legislative procedure is to be wound up by the end of October. "The timetable is ambitious," said Thomas de Maizière, but he stressed, "We have no time to lose. Swift decisions are needed."
In an interview with the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit", Thomas de Maizière said he had been overwhelmed by the enormous readiness to help in Germany. At the same time, though, he said quite plainly, "We will have to get used to the idea that our country is changing." Rigorous action must be taken against xenophobic criminal offences.