After weeks of blocking, Germany finally gave in. On Thursday, during a meeting of EU interior ministers, Berlin formally gave the green light to the text on crisis management and the instrumentalization of migration, paving the way for a future agreement on the migration and asylum pact of which it is only one part. The German Greens have until now been opposed to allowing children and families to be subject to the accelerated procedure at the border, a guarantee of a faster return to the country of origin for those whose right to asylum has been rejected. But Italy, in favor of the text the day before, in turn entered into resistance on Thursday, refusing a provision of the text according to which humanitarian operations are not instrumentalization.
This text was the last piece of the puzzle to be adopted by the Member States among all those which make up the pact. To encourage member states to conclude, the European Parliament decided to stop ongoing negotiations on the other texts. “It is essential to resolve the legislative crisis on migration,” warned the president, Roberta Metsola, member of the EPP.
For the moment, tensions are increasing in the EU around migration. The recent crisis in Lampedusa sounded like a call to order while, according to Frontex figures, the level of irregular arrivals is close to that of 2016 and the European elections are looming. In this context, excitement is affecting many European leaders. Italian Giorgia Meloni sent a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz last week to complain that the German government - in this case the Foreign Ministry - is helping to finance NGO rescue ships in the Mediterranean. It is, she judges, “a call for inspiration for irregular immigration”. “At a time when the AfD is 40% in the Land of Thuringia, and more than 20% in Germany... Let the NGOs do it, yes! Let the German Greens do it, no!” chokes up a European diplomat. The head of German diplomacy Annalena Baerbock responded Thursday that “saving people from drowning at sea is a legal and European obligation.”
The Italian leader cannot digest Germany's decision, announced in mid-September, to suspend the voluntary reception of asylum seekers from Italy. For its part, Berlin is, in the words of an EU source, “overwhelmed and overwhelmed politically” by the flow of migrants. Since the start of the year, irregular arrivals have increased by 60% compared to the same period of 2022 and asylum requests have increased by 78%.
While we will vote in Bavaria on October 8, Germany is also putting pressure on Poland and the Czech Republic. A strengthening of border controls in these two countries was announced on Wednesday. The German government has of course benefited from the visa scandal which has rocked Warsaw since the beginning of the month (read opposite). Thousands of foreign workers obtained the precious sesame more easily and quickly in return for bribes. But Berlin's decision, taken at the highest level, goes far beyond this scandal. “The Germans are called Nazis all day long by the Polish government (currently in the campaign, Editor's note). Until now, they were holding back. They decided to take out the gloves,” confides a European diplomat.
This Polish visa affair, which also affects a country fiercely hostile to migration, has also fueled the mistrust of other Member States. “The Poles are talking about 2000 visas. In reality, we absolutely do not know how many there are,” admits this same European diplomat. Added to these tensions is the attack made by Warsaw and Budapest against the migration and asylum pact and the EU. The two capitals repeatedly repeat that Brussels will impose “fines” on them if they refuse to take migrants on a voluntary basis, as provided for in the pact.
The exterior shutter is not doing much better. The EU-Tunisia agreement, sealed last July, is also making waves in the EU and between European institutions. Some Member States (the Germans and the Nordics in particular) criticize the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Dutchman Mark Rutte and Giorgia Meloni - who went to Tunis with great fanfare - for having put them in front of the accomplished by concluding this agreement, which was also widely criticized by part of the European Parliament. Josep Borrell, the high representative, also vice-president of the Commission, even went to the front line to criticize the method in a letter addressed to “VDL”.
Eight months before this deadline, the Twenty-Seven are keen to show European Union citizens that the subject is being managed. It will also be on the agenda of several meetings in the coming days. This Friday, the leaders of the nine European countries of the Mediterranean are meeting at a summit in Malta. Objective: to advance their common agenda, and in particular this migration issue while destabilization is increasing in Africa.
On the sidelines of this summit, a meeting is planned between Giorgia Meloni, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen to talk in particular about the EU-Tunisia agreement. Next week, during the informal summit in Granada, migration will also be discussed. The Europeans' objective is to have the pact adopted before the European elections, under the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union.