Germany in U-turn on 'open door' refugee policy
Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30
Germany is turning away hundreds of migrants on the border with Austria, as the government tries to cut the number of asylum seekers.
There would appear to be a return to the strict implementation of the EU's controversial Dublin rules for asylum seekers, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally suspended last year with her "open door" refugee policy.
The government yesterday also agreed to deport asylum seekers who have broken the law, in the wake of the New Year's Eve sex attacks.
Some 200 migrants a day are being refused entry into Germany, up from 60 in December, according to the Austrian authorities. Most of those refused entry are trying to cross Germany to claim asylum in Sweden or Denmark, a police spokesman said. Under the Dublin rules, refugees must claim asylum in the first EU state they enter.
Mrs Merkel had effectively suspended the rules when she said Germany would take Syrian refugees regardless of which EU state they entered first. Now she has pledged to reduce the number.
Sweden and Denmark have also tightened their borders in recent weeks, while Italy claimed yesterday that Europe must choose between its Schengen open borders and the Dublin rules, because the migrant crisis had made the two incompatible.
Italy and Greece are the main points of entry to the EU for asylum seekers. Both countries are critical of the Dublin rules, under which they are responsible for the vast number of refugees.
The number of asylum seekers reaching Europe shows little sign of abating. Some 18,872 arrived by sea in the first 11 days of 2016, the International Organisation for Migration said.
Meanwhile, Germany's government proposed new laws to make it easier to deport asylum seekers.
At the moment, only those sentenced to three years or more in prison can be expelled. Under the proposed changes, even a suspended prison sentence would be enough for deportation.