Göttingen – ESI attends “Fritz im Dialog” event on the future of migration in Germany

18 April 2024
Göttingen, Photo: Flickr/Vienanmeri

Gerald was invited by CDU parliamentarian Fritz Güntzler to Göttingen to participate in a “Fritz im Dialog” panel held on the topic of “Migration - Wie packt Deutschland das?”, or “Migration – How will Germany handle it”.

Gerald noted that despite the common image of refugees coming to Germany from Africa or the Middle East, the largest groups of refugees in Germany have been Europeans fleeing European conflicts, such as the Balkan wars or the Russian invasion of Ukraine. To this point, Gerald noted that Europe received more Ukrainian refugees in three weeks after Russia’s full-scale 2022 invasion than it received in total between 2017 and 2021. To manage migration, Germany thus needs to be proactive in avoiding geopolitical conflict in Europe – for example, a possible Serbian invasion of Kosovo.

Regarding migration from outside Europe, Gerald noted that harsh rhetoric is not the answer. He pointed out that despite such rhetoric, Austria still has among the most migrants per capita in the EU. Similarly, deportations are not a realistic solution, either. While Germany has touted its goal of increasing deportations, Gerald noted how difficult deportations are to organise. In all of 2022, Germany managed only 3,100 deportations to countries outside of Europe, which similar figures emerging in the first half of 2023.

Instead, Gerald highlighted the potential of Safe Third Country Agreements as a tool to discourage illegal migration while ensuring that those in genuine need of international protection receive this in a dignified manner in accordance with the rule of law. As evidence, Gerald noted the 2016 EU-Turkey statement, in which Turkey agreed to accept the return of migrants who attempted an Aegean crossing to Greece, led to an immediate and dramatic drop in the number of migrants drowning in the Aegean. While the agreement faced substantial difficulties in its implementation, Europe has the chance to learn from these difficulties and implement an EU-Turkey Statement 2.0.

Gerald also noted the potential of Rwanda as a willing and capable host for migrants arriving in the EU. Europe would then also commit to accepting a set number of refugees per year through legal, organised resettlement. Europe has massive potential in this field, resettling far smaller numbers than Canada or the US. Europe has also shown that it is capable of absorbing these resettled refugees – studies show that the most liveable cities in Europe, such as Vienna or Copenhagen, have also been leaders in hosting refugees.

A logical pilot programme for a new migration paradigm in Europe would be between the EU and the UK. In particular, France, the Benelux countries and Germany could agree with the UK to take back any refugees who make the dangerous journey over the English Channel. In return, the UK would agree to accept a substantial number of refugees directly from France, Germany, and the Benelux countries in an orderly, legal fashion. Should this be a success, it would show how a future deal with Rwanda or another partner country could work.