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Interior ministry criticises planned EU-wide asylum rules

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Interior ministry criticises planned EU-wide asylum rules
EU Justice Commissioner Barrot speaks on asylum law in Oct. 2009. Photo: DPA
11:41 CEST+02:00
The European Commission's plans to standardise EU law on asylum-seekers by 2012 have come under fire from the German Interior Ministry. The commission's recommendations could ease the country's existing rules on asylum.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said it supports efforts to bring countries' asylum laws in line with one another but views certain proposals with a critical eye.

On Thursday, Ole Schröder, parliamentary state secretary to the interior ministry and a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, told daily Bild that the EU asylum law would lead to longer procedures and higher costs.

“The German government will strive to ensure in Brussels that the core of our established asylum law won't be infringed upon,” he said.

According to a spokesperson from the interior ministry on Friday, Germany saw a significant increase in asylum applications during the first half of 2010, totalling 15,579.

Bild reported that the commission's recommendations would strike down a German rule that gives the government the right to turn away asylum seekers whose applications hold no apparent merit upon arrival at German airports or borders.

An EU spokesman denounced the paper's report as “false.”

But Monika Hohlmeier of Germany, a conservative member of the European Parliament, said the plans would see “Germany's border and airport procedure significantly restricted.”

The Commission also denied claims that asylum applicants would be guaranteed access to social security benefits enjoyed by local residents. Hohlmeier said the new rules would see “asylum applicants put on equal footing” in regards to welfare benefits.

Speaking on Friday in Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission denied that its newest recommendations would “infringe upon the core of German asylum law” and that its guidelines would not open the door to those seeking asylum on fraudulent grounds.

The EU Commission is, however, planning to establish a right to stay for juvenile siblings, which in Germany currently applies only to spouses and children. Brussels said the proposal is in line with the United Nations and EU standards.

The Commission is also looking to limit the duration of asylum proceedings to six months.

“This corresponds to the average processing time in [EU] member states,” a spokesman said, adding that more complex cases could take up to one year.

Officials from interior and justice ministries in EU member states are scheduled to discuss the commission's recommendations at a meeting in Brussels next week. Streamlining the bloc's asylum rules requires agreement by both member states and the European Parliament.

But conservatives in the European Parliament have announced plans to challenge the commission's proposals.

“The asylum package as it's proposed by the EU Commission won't become law,” a statement by Hohlmeier and German conservative German MEP Manfred Weber read.

In response to a rising number of asylum-seekers to Germany, the government tightened its rules on political asylum in 1993, disqualifying applicants from EU countries or other “safe states.”

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