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Berlin tries to broker cash for migrants deals

Europe's biggest economy and source of development finance mulls payments to deter migration

Germany is set to be the next European Union country to attempt to broker 'cash for migrants' deals, primarily with North African states Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. This emerged after Berlin's coalition government appointed Joachim Stamp as its first 'special representative of the federal government for migration agreements'.

At last week's EU leaders' summit in Brussels, officials vowed to step up efforts to deter irregular migration and repatriate more migrants whose residency applications have been rejected. Top officials took their hardest line yet on repatriation, threatening to suspend aid, trade access and impose visa restrictions on countries who refuse to co-operate on returns.

An official with the liberal Free Democrat Party, a junior member of the coalition government in Berlin, Stamp had previously been integration minister in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Officials in Berlin suggest that Stamp's office may consider establishing quotas for legal immigrants from the respective countries, to enter Germany. These quotas would be contingent on the applicants' home countries taking back individuals who Germany wishes to repatriate or other nationals whose asylum applications had failed.

Britain's agreement with Rwanda to process the appeal claims of failed asylum seekers remains the only significant 'cash for migrants' model in Europe. Yet repeated legal challenges have meant that no migrants have been sent to Rwanda under the system (AC Vol 63 No 9, Refugee deal faces delays as legal and political challenges grow). Denmark has opened talks with Rwanda on a similar arrangement.

Last year, Germany received more asylum applications than any other EU state. Under its former chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany won plaudits for agreeing to take a million refugees from the devastating wars in Iraq and Syria. Since then far-right and neo-fascist parties across Europe have been pushing for more restrictions in migration.

Berlin's government has been complaining about collective responsibility in the 27-member bloc. It has made applications to fellow European countries to take back 68,709 people who had made an asylum application in another EU state and then travelled on to Germany.

Fewer than 10% of Germany's requests were accepted, worsening the backlog of asylum applications. Only 16% of the decisions on rejection applications by EU governments in 2022 were followed by a readmission request to the third country to which they are due to return.

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