German CDU Favors a Third-Country Solution to Processing Asylum Claims

Markus Soeder, Friedrich Merz and Manfred Weber in a EPP Political Assembly in May 2023 (Photo: European People's Party/Wikipedia Commons)

The German federal opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is seeking to change immigration law in Germany. The plan favors processing asylum seekers in third countries, but experts disagree on whether it is practical from a legal or logistical standpoint.

The conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) put the plans for sending asylum-seekers to third countries into the draft of its new “basic principles program,” reports.

After publication of the draft, CDU lawmaker Jens Spahn insisted that such plans would drastically reduce the amount of irregular immigration to Germany. He also added: A number of nations would be willing to make agreements to handle migrants. “Rwanda would probably be willing,” Spahn said. “Ghana might be, too. We should also talk to Eastern European countries such as Georgia and Moldova.”

According to the document, the requirements for safe third countries should be related to adherence to the core of the Geneva Convention on Refugees and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Subsequently, the CDU insists on a quota rule for the reception of refugees in Germany: “The concept of safe third countries should not lead to Europe stealing from its humanitarian responsibility. We are therefore in favor of the fact that, after the successful establishment of the third-country concept, a coalition of willing people within the EU annually takes in a contingent of vulnerable people from abroad and distributes them among the coalition members” are highlighted in the recently published draft program.

Migration researcher Gerald Knaus told DW that, though the CDU’s draft plan is a little vague, the idea would discourage people from taking dangerous migration routes. Not to mention that the UK’s similar plan has already struck down by the British Supreme Court.

Rightward Shift in German Migration Policy

It is not a novel concept to process asylum seekers overseas. In accordance with international law, Germany’s center-left government promised in its coalition agreement for 2021 to investigate whether determining protection status in third countries under special circumstances is feasible. In Germany, individuals whose requests for asylum are denied are already given a deadline by which to depart. The German government passed harsher laws last year with the intention of achieving more effective returns due to growing attention on the nation’s inability to carry out deportations, which was attributed to both practical and legal obstacles.

“I actually think this is more of a return to things that the CDU has just represented before Angela Merkel. If you look again at how the CDU acted in the debates that led to the so-called asylum compromise in 1993, then I find it a bit strange to say that the CDU was going towards the AfD,” political scientist Christina Zuber told German daily Die Tageszeitung.

CDU aims with the draft program to outsource asylum claims procedures to third countries outside the EU, including their submission.

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