Border controls are rare in Germany, as the country is part of the EU's Schengen zone of free movement | Photo:S. Hoppe / Picture-alliance/dpa
Border controls are rare in Germany, as the country is part of the EU's Schengen zone of free movement | Photo:S. Hoppe / Picture-alliance/dpa

More than 1,500 migrants have illegally entered Germany from Scandinavian nations since the beginning of the year. Politicians are calling for an overhaul of the Dublin regulation to make such secondary migration less attractive.

A total of 1,569 people entered Germany from its northern neighbors by the end of October 2020, according to the German Federal Police. The majority of them were reported to be migrants who had originated from Afghanistan and Iraq – according to reports circulated by the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper conglomerate.

The migrants entered Germany either by crossing the border with Denmark to the north or by sailing from Sweden. The borders are usually open as part of the EU's Schengen Zone, but have been manned in the past under extreme circumstances - such as during the height of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015 and also during part of the coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

Playing the system

Many migrants seek to enter Germany in the hope of having better chances at having their asylum applications approved. However, under the EU’s Dublin regulation, the duty of processing asylum cases lies with the country of first entry into the EU. This has, in the past, disproportionately affected southern EU member states at the frontline of the migration issue, such as Greece and Italy.

But some migrants are trying to make use of a legal loophole: if a migrant is able to spend six months or longer in another EU member nation for any reason, that country usually has to take over the duty of processing their asylum case. Many migrants thus cross into Germany, trying to hide from authorities for six months before presenting their case.

Read more: Thousands sue Germany for suspending time limit on Dublin deportations

Slow clerical processes

The German Ministry of the Interior said that by the end of the first half of 2020, there were 28,292 migrants and refugees living in Germany whose asylum cases should be the responsibility of another EU member state.

More than a third of those cases – 10,932 people – had been earmarked to be deported to those countries of first entry to have their cases heard and processed. But due to clerical issues, the six-month deadline had passed in many cases, making their cases then the responsibility of German authorities. The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the slowdown in deportations earlier in the year.

Read more: COVID-19: ‘Crisis on top of a crisis’ for refugees, aid group warns

Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) meanwhile reported that in the first six months of 2020, the German government had sought "transfer requests" under the Dublin regulation in 13,146 cases. Migrants who had come to Germany from Sweden accounted for 943 cases - or 7.2 % of the total amount.

The main countries involved are Greece, Italy and France.

Abuse of Dublin regulation

Various politicians in Germany have meanwhile voiced their concern with regard to the current state of affairs in Dublin cases. CDU politician Mathias Middelberg said that Germany was considered a target country by many migrants, who continued their migration within the bounds of the EU. The issue of such secondary migration, he said, was beginning to play "a major role" in EU politics.

Middelberg called for the introduction of safeguards to curb secondary migration within the European Union: "EU member states that technically are already responsible for asylum applicants should remain permanently responsible for them. Any entitlement to social benefits should then only exist in those states."

Read more: EU migration pact: What's in the plan?

(with KNA)


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