Asylum as an international obligation is a fundamental value to which the Member States of the European Union have committed themselves. Regardless of whether people are fleeing from Ukraine, or from African countries and the Middle East via Belarus: While different in context, all migration flows require the same values-based response from the EU. Dysfunctional asylum and migration policies and double standards among member states have led to unprecedented solidarity in the case of Ukraine, but an inhumane response in the case of Belarus.
Dr. Vittoria Meissner argues that the juxtaposition of the Ukrainian and Belarusian case at the Polish border has once more exposed the dysfunctionality of the EU’s asylum and migration policy. While there is unanimity on supporting refugees from Ukraine, it is unlikely that there will be an EU-wide agreement for processing asylum applications and redistributing refugees from Africa or the Middle East. Germany can contribute in three ways to counteracting double standards and breaking the downward spiral of the EU’s migration and asylum policy, caused by the uneven sharing of responsibility, which have led to breaches of EU values.
Firstly, the German government should promote the proposal of a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum seekers and keep it open to other member states. Secondly, local authorities in German cities and municipalities that are willing to take in migrants regardless of their origin should be supported. Third, the disproportionate “war” terminology that was publicly used in Germany and other EU countries during the border conflict on the Belarusian-Polish border should be avoided. This could counteract anti-migrant sentiments among Eurosceptic political actors and citizens. Finally, Bundestag members as well as German members of the European Parliament should take a clear diplomatic stand towards the government in Warsaw when it comes to breaches of EU values and humanitarian law and ensure independent monitoring of the situation at the border between Belarus and Poland.
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