During the third CDU regional conference on Wednesday in Seebach in the eastern German state of Thuringia, Merz said that Germany was the only country in the world with an individual right to asylum in its constitution.
For a long time, Merz said he felt it was necessary to talk openly about whether this basic right of asylum could “continue in in its current form” if Germany seriously desired a standardized European immigration and refugee policy.
The former Union faction leader also demanded a clarification that the planned UN migration pact would not create any new grounds for asylum seekers.
He said that this must be clarified in an “appropriate manner”, and proposed a protocol declaration by the federal government, or a resolution to be adopted by the Bundestag.
For example, climate change should not be regarded as political persecution, he said, and thus as a reason for asylum.
Health Minister Jens Spahn, also bidding to take Merkel's seat, has said previously that he has doubts over Germany signing the UN migration pact and said there should be a party discussion about it.
‘Things which we in Germany cannot accept’
The controversial pact, against which there is sometimes vehement opposition in several countries, is to be adopted in Morocco on December 10th and 11th.”These are things that we in Germany cannot accept through the back door,” continued Merz.
The three most promising candidates for the CDU presidency – Spahn, the policy returnee Merz and CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – presented themselves at a regional conference, held for the first time in an east German city.
Kramp-Karrenbauer was also critical of the non-binding principles that the asylum pact contains in dealing with migrants.
“In future we must have a better sense of what is questionable, and we must start discussing it much earlier,” she said.
“If we don't debate, we leave the field open to others,” said Spahn, in a reference to the right-wing anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Previously, the Health Minister had called for more courage for diversity of opinion and warned against “political over-correctness”.
Asylum law is currently a hot topic within German politics. According to a report, the grand coalition wants to relieve the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) by temporarily changing the asylum law.
Improving immigration procedures
According to a report presented Thursday by Burkhard Lischka, the spokesperson for internal affairs in the Bundestag, the deadline for the routine review of positive asylum decisions will probably be extended from three to five years at BAMF’s request.
At the least, this will apply for refugees who applied for asylum in 2015 and 2016, when a particularly large number of migrants came to Germany.
Lischka told the editorial network RND on Thursday that in those years Germany had “up to 890,000 asylum procedures per year”.
“The BAMF should have the opportunity to process these so-called revocation procedures carefully and without time pressure – also in order to avoid that they are at the expense of the processing of new asylum applications,” he said.
CSU politician Andrea Lindholz, chairwoman of the interior committee of the Bundestag, said that the SPD was prepared to make a temporary arrangement.
BAMF came under controversy earlier year, when the office in Bremen allegedly granted refugee status to over 1,000 refugees without merit. The incident had occurred partially due to a lack of staffing and transparency over the procedures.
The proposed asylum checks will focus on whether the prerequisites for a positive asylum decision are still fulfilled – for example, above all whether the conditions in the country of origin have changed or new information on the refugee's identity has emerged. The latter applies above all to foreigners who came without papers.