Germany is trying to walk back its open door promises on refugees and migrants even further, with the Interior Ministry reportedly looking to Australia as a model. The EU Observer explains that the proposed system would seek to intercept migrants at sea and send them back to North Africa:
The ministry, headed by Thomas de Maiziere, wants to offload the application process to states like Egypt or Tunisia in a move that resembles Australia’s controversial asylum policy.
The Australian government sends all applicants caught at sea to one of two offshore processing centres on Pacific island nations. Rights group say the conditions in the camps often resemble prisons.
Intercepting people in the Mediterranean Sea and making them apply for EU asylum in Tunisia or elsewhere would mark a major policy shift and likely restrict an asylum seeker’s access to basic rights like legal representation and the right to appeal.
The plight of refugees is perhaps the greatest moral dilemma of our time, and the past few years have been blighted by short-sighted and counter-productive thinking about the issue. Naive policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have allowed these awful refugee crises to persist and grow. Meanwhile, the inability to slow the flow of refugees has created a nightmare on the continent, enabling and ennobling far-right politicians and pulling at the fragile bonds which hold together the European political community. Unwillingness to attack the problem at its source in Syria and North Africa is the original sin, but it’s hardly the only sin.
If Germany gets tougher on migrants, the usual suspects will repeat the usual platitudes about human rights and values. In just the past two weeks, for example, the Australian model has been repeatedly attacked by the editorial board of The New York Times. Moral preening, coupled with a studied inability to recognize real political and social limits of a controversial policy, has amplified an already-grim situation. Hopefully Berlin is finally beginning to sober up.