Migration policy: what is the potential traffic light coalition betting on?

Status: 11/13/2021 4:32 p.m.

Thousands want to go to Europe and preferably to Germany, but Poland stops the migrants. The conflict on the Belarusian-Polish border is one of the first major challenges for a possible traffic light government. What does she want to do?

By Michael Stempfle, ARD capital studio

Feras Maree no longer understands the world. When he came from Syria six years ago, Germany welcomed him warmly. He now lives as a filmmaker in Rhineland-Palatinate. But the EU is now giving his brother the cold shoulder, who has been holding out at the Belarusian-Polish border for around two weeks. The Polish government does not allow him and many other migrants to cross the border, despite the bitter cold at night. “There is no food, no drinking and no electricity to charge the cell phone,” Feras worries. It is “like in a war zone”. The 32-year-old Syrian is simply afraid that his brother could be killed on the European external border.

Michael Stempfle
ARD capital studio

A possible traffic light government wants to prevent such situations in the future: No dying at the EU’s external border – was the goal after the exploratory talks. But how? The negotiating partners of the SPD, Greens and FDP have not yet revealed this. The coalition negotiations are confidential. It is likely to be a daunting task to implement this resolution, as many EU countries prefer to rely on deterrence and brutality at the external border, as migration researcher Gerald Knaus has repeatedly emphasized.

EU shows itself “from its ugliest side”

The EU asylum system currently provides that the country of entry is responsible for the asylum procedure. The fact that the EU countries have not adhered to the rules for years and have not been able to agree on a new set of rules is now geopolitically disastrous for them. “Many countries around the world know that the EU cannot deal with people seeking protection arriving at the external border,” said Erik Marquardt, Member of the Green Party in the EU Parliament. That makes the EU open to blackmail.

Blackmailable – currently especially for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin. For them, the conflict between Belarus and Poland is “a success”, according to migration researcher Knaus. With a small number of migrants lured by Lukashenko’s regime, “the entire EU can panic”. Now the EU is showing itself “from its ugliest side”. For the EU this is already a strategic defeat and a catastrophe.

The fact that the EU cannot bring itself to allow aid in the restricted area between Belarus and Poland is also a “humanitarian disgrace,” says the Green politician. Many of the migrants are Kurds from Syria and Iraq. So those who – also in the German interest – would have fought against the terror group “Islamic State” IS just a few years ago. If they found their way from Belarus to the Polish side now, they would not be registered but pushed back into the border area. This also leads to violence. With this, Marquardt criticizes Poland’s approach, which is not compatible with EU law.

Greens want to negotiate with countries of origin

And yet the behavior of the Greens also raises questions. The fact that they, of all people, launched an information campaign in the countries of origin may have surprised many of their own followers. Marquardt supports his party’s proposal. It must be clear that it is not worth coming to Minsk. Migrants find a situation on the border with Poland that is possibly worse than before their trip. So how humane will migration policy be in a likely traffic light government?

The Greens, who apparently also have the Federal Foreign Office in view in the coalition negotiations, are relying on negotiations with the countries of origin and the countries through which migration routes lead. The talks so far – for example with Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon – have already contributed to fewer flights to Minsk. Like the federal government that is still in charge, the possible Ampel coalition partners are also focusing on combating the causes of flight. Message: Where crises arise, help must be provided on the spot as quickly as possible so that people don’t even set off for Europe.

Asylum procedures are to be accelerated

What is new, however, is that the possible traffic light partners want to create more legal entry routes. If Erik Marquardt had his way, there would also be “safe and orderly escape routes”. The goal: people would not even have to get involved in illegal smugglers. That would also deprive rulers like Lukashenko the possibility of blackmail. How many people a new federal government would like to take in via so-called resettlement programs, for example, has not yet been stated by the coalition partners. If the Greens have their way, a traffic light government would not wait for solidarity from all 27 EU countries in a crisis situation. Erik Marquardt demands that one must first rely on a coalition of willing states.

For those seeking protection who find their way to Germany, according to the will of the SPD, Greens and FDP, a lot should improve in the future: Above all, the asylum procedures should be accelerated. Those who do not get asylum should still be given the chance to find a job in order to obtain a residence permit in this way. Those who are obliged to leave the country but have not been able to be deported for years because the situation in their countries of origin does not allow it can also hope that their situation will improve. It is very likely that they will no longer have to remain in what is known as a tolerance status for so long in the future.

Many plans still remain unclear

Many of the traffic light projects in the area of ​​migration also remain nebulous. The traffic light negotiating partners are talking about more investments in integration. However, it remains unclear how migrants could better process their flight trauma in Germany in the future. At the moment there are likely to be too few psychologists who specialize in this. In addition, a traffic light coalition must also decide how to deal with migrants who are neither entitled to asylum nor can they be placed on the labor market. To which countries are persons obliged to leave the country repatriated and which not?

The Greens are more interested in incentives for voluntary departure. Is this instrument enough for the FDP? In the medium and long term, at least in the opinion of the Greens, more needs to change. For example in dealing with the EU’s direct neighbors. In the current situation, tough sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime are right, according to Marquardt, but the EU must succeed in opening diplomatic channels with neighboring states so that normal coexistence is possible again and relations with Russia and Belarus are stabilized again.

For Feras Maree from Syria, these plans for a possible new federal government are abstract. There was a body in the restricted area, he heard. What if it’s his brother? Every day now counts for Feras. It’s about life and death. His brother has become the plaything of international politics.

You can see more on this and other topics on Sunday from 6:05 p.m. in a two-hour period ARD special broadcast from “Report from Berlin” and “Weltspiegel” to the formation of a possible traffic light coalition.


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