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Protection for refugees in Germany and the EU

Germany has long advocated a European solution based on solidarity to the refugee issue.
Schutz für Flüchtlinge in Deutschland und der EU
© Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Basic Law guarantees politically persecuted persons a right to asylum. In this way, Germany affirms its historical and human­itarian responsibility. In 2015 as part of the so-called “refugee crisis”, 890,000 arrived in Germany seeking protection, and in 2016 about 746,000 persons applied for asylum here. The number of persons seeking protection in Germany has since been falling, with barely 166,000 applications for asylum filed in 2019.

The goal is fair distribution

Dealing with the issue of refugees and asylum-seekers has long been a European matter. It is governed primarily by the Dublin procedure, according to which those seeking protection must apply for asylum in the country they reach first when arriving in the EU. If refugees travel onward and apply for asylum in a different EU state, this state can send them back to the country in which they first arrived. This procedure creates a significantly greater burden on the states on the Mediterranean rim, namely Italy, Spain and Greece, hence Germany and its partners have long been advocating reform of European asylum law. It is one of the items on the agenda for Germany’s EU presidency, with the aim being fair distribution of refugees. The European Commission made a proposal as far back as 2016, but this failed in the face of resistance from certain states that would not take refugees under any circumstances.

Germany now wishes to create new impetus for a European solution to the refugee issue based on solidarity. The Federal Government is also committed to improving refugee protection and supporting refugees in their host countries.