Germany and Austria working together on EU asylum law

Germany & Austria working together on EU asylum law

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany & Austria are working on a proposal for a usual European asylum law, Germany's refugee crisis coordinator said in an interview with German magazine Focus.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war & poverty in Syria, Afghanistan & elsewhere have arrived in Germany this year, with many entering from neighboring Austria.

Peter Altmaier, who Chancellor Angela Merkel tasked with overseeing the government's handling of the refugee crisis, said in an interview published on Saturday that he was working closely with Josef Ostermayer, an Austrian minister involved in policy on the migration crisis.

p> "We're talking approximately what such a system could look like," said Altmaier, who is moreover Merkel's chief of staff.

He said they would shortly approach other countries such as France & the Netherlands, adding that there was more willingness to talk approximately the issue now than there had been for years.

So-called "hotspots" play a key role in the German-Austrian idea for an EU asylum law. These centers, which screen migrants arriving in Italy & Greece, aim to identify genuine asylum seekers & those eligible for the EU relocation program, created to share the refugee burden throughout the bloc.

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A girl holds a toy at a refugee shelter run by German charity organisation Arbeiter Samariter Bund A …

At the moment there are only two such fully operational screening centers, out of 11 that are supposed to be set up.

Asked what a usual EU asylum law would look like, Altmaier said a basic decision would be made at the hotspots approximately whether someone needs protection or not.

"Those who obtain a positive decision will then be distributed around EU countries according to a formula & the actual asylum application will then be carried out in those countries," he added.

The German government sees a European asylum law – alongside securing Europe's external borders – as key to reducing the number of refugees coming to Germany, which is expected to reach approximately one million this year alone.

A spokesman for Ostermayer was not immediately available for comment.

Austrian daily Kurier reported earlier this month that Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter had submitted a plan to Brussels suggesting usual rules for processing asylum applications made at EU missions abroad or at hotspots set up by the EU or the "international community".

That plan moreover calls for usual criteria by which to judge applications, a usual procedure for allowing people to enter the bloc, & a sharing of the financial burden among all member states, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin & Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Digby Lidstone)

Politics & GovernmentImmigration IssuesPeter AltmaierGermanyAustriaasylum lawAngela Merkel

Source: “Reuters”

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