The federal government’s position is met with protests and critiques over an acceptance of further violation of refugee rights under the agreement reached on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig announced a “disappointing” ruling on two cases related to the question of the protection of rooms in collective accommodations for refugees amid a rise of far-right attacks on reception centres. A new law to open up new opportunities for job seekers from countries outside the EU has passed.

Germany agreed on a joint position regarding the controversial reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) in the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) on 9 June. According to ECRE director Catherine Woollard, Germany refused “to stand firm and defend the even minor improvements that the government coalition agreement required, and on which it had the support of a small progressive alliance, and potential alliances with the south. For example, on exemptions to the border procedure” that are only applicable to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers and not to families with children. The federal government has long defended its position, arguing that the agreement reached is a “significant step” which includes “effective protection of the external European borders with unified standards for registration and jurisdiction, as well as a feasible solidarity mechanism”. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sees the agreement reached as “historic” while accepting its controversy. “I know that the agreement isn’t without controversy in this house,” Scholz told parliament. “Everyone had to make compromises, including Germany.” “But it was the right thing to do in the interest of Europe’s unity and ability to act,” he added. “It was right, because our current system is completely dysfunctional.”

Civil society organisations disagree with the government’s arguments fearing consequences for those seeking protection in Europe. “Better no reform than such a reform”, Karl Kopp from ECRE member Pro Asyl said. In response to the compromise, on Refugee World Day marked on 20 June, Pro Asyl together with Berlin Refugee Council organised a funeral march representing that the deal has buried the right to asylum as it aims to “disenfranchise and prevent access to a fair asylum procedure”, leading to “even more suffering for refugees”. Besides, more than 60 organisations in a joint statement expressed their disappointment with the German government’s position on the reform of CEAS and appealed to the federal government to “live up to its humanitarian responsibility and to take its own coalition agreement seriously” by ensuring humane and fair asylum procedures, refugee protection in the European Union and real solidarity in refugee reception. “Instead of resolutely opposing the trend towards the devaluation of European fundamental and human rights and the erosion of the principles of the rule of law, the government’s position is signaling its willingness to go down this path at any price. This puts her in blatant contradiction to the central promises of the coalition agreement (translated)”, the statement reads. Meanwhile, protests against the German position on CEAS continue. On 26 June, lawyers protested “against the sell-off of protection seeker’s rights” in front of a venue where the German interior minister, who believes if the negotiations had failed, things would not have gotten any better for those seeking protection at Europe’s external border, was defending his government’s stand. On 19 June, Pro Asyl and the Refugee Council Hessen protested in front of a small conference organised by the Green Party to call on the party to seize the remaining opportunities and oppose reforms on CEAS. The party must “decide whether it supports the plans to undermine the right to asylum or demands changes”, both organisations underlined.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig announced a “disappointing” ruling on June 15 on two cases related to the question of the protection of rooms in collective accommodations for refugees. The first case concerns six asylum seekers who complained about the lack of privacy in reception facilities including unlockable rooms and daily security checks. The second case is regarding a police operation in 2018 in which Several police officers, accompanied by police dogs, broke into the room of an asylum seeker named Alassa Mfouapon for deportation purposes under the Dublin regulation without having a court search warrant. The court, which combined the two cases into one proceeding, ruled that “The mere entry of the room of an initial reception center for refugees by the police for the purpose of transferring a foreigner who is obliged to leave the country is not a search”. In response to the ruling, plaintiff Alassa Mfouapon summarized, “Today it became clear once again: the rights of refugees are in danger – we don’t get the same protection as other people”. Moreover, the number of attacks committed against asylum seekers increased in the first quarter of 2023, compared with the same quarter last year. In total, in the first three months of 2023, there were 45 attacks on asylum seeker accommodation registered, and 42 of these had a far-right motive. In the same time period in the previous year, 19 such attacks were registered, and 16 of them had far-right motives.

On a positive note, the German parliament has passed legislation to open up new opportunities for job seekers from countries outside the EU and for many refugees who are already in the country.  “This draft law secures prosperity in Germany,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, emphasizing that with the reform, Germany is “creating the conditions for bringing the best talent from abroad to the country”. It’s unacceptable that you have to fill in 17 different applications to bring a new care worker into the country,” she added

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