The German government is considering using North Africa as a location to process some of its asylum seekers, according to reports from Die Zeit.
Special Representative on Migration Joachim Stamp (FDP) floated the idea of transporting asylum seekers—found crossing the Mediterranean—to North Africa to assess what visa schemes are available for securing paths to legal migration.
Germany received 244,000 asylum applicants in 2022, 50% of which were rejected, with an ongoing backlog of failed applicants, causing concern for the ruling “traffic light” coalition.
Stamp added that the plan would only be logistically possible if Germany and Europe had positive diplomatic relations with individual North African nations. In this sense, many legal and logistical barriers remain to be overcome before they can be actualised. He also cautioned that the German government would not rush any decision, to avoid the problems faced by the British government and its so-called Rwanda plan. He provided assurances that human rights would be respected.
Stamp also told state broadcaster Deutschlandfunk of the need for Germany to change the way it partners with countries-of-origin, which could include the German state setting up centres for individuals to apply for asylum in a regulated way without making the journey to Europe:
We want to make more regular migration into the German job market possible on the one hand, but we also want to reduce irregular migration significantly.
Stamp also suggested a new quota system to give out visas—in exchange for an agreement on the repatriation of asylum seekers with criminal records, and the transfer of those rescued in the Mediterranean to Tunisia rather than to Greece or Italy.
Germany has previously looked at the feasibility of moving the burden of asylum applications to North Africa, with former CDU Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière proposing such a scheme in 2016. These plans failed due to a lack of willingness from North African nations at the time.
The statement comes following an EU summit focusing on the issue of migration, where leaders agreed to harmonise asylum procedures and hasten deportations to clamp down on illegal immigration. Europe is currently experiencing a surge in asylum numbers across the Mediterranean, with the EU Commission announcing a new Action Plan to manage migration flow in November 2022.
The plan has drawn comparisons to the UK’s ‘Rwanda Plan,’ which saw the British government attempt to implement a plan to fly failed applicants to Rwanda for resettlement. While deemed lawful by the UK High Court, the plan has been frustrated by various legal injunctions, with no asylum seekers so far being deported.