Ahead of the presentation of an EU migration pact and the next EU summit, Mattias Lücke, project head of the MEDAM project and senior researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, comments on Germany’s capacity to receive more refugees:
"The fear that Germany or other willing EU countries with a generous admission policy will lure further asylum seekers on a life-threatening journey to the EU is valid. Nevertheless, the approach by Germany and other EU countries to the admission of refugees can be justified, provided it is flanked by further measures. These include close coordination with countries of arrival, such as Greece and Turkey, and increased participation in the UN resettlement program.
The Greek government is concerned that an arbitrary transfer of many migrants from the islands to other EU member states would lead to even more migrant arrivals from Turkey—while acceptance of them in the EU could soon decline. Germany, in coordination with Greece, is right to focus on particularly vulnerable and recognized refugees in the short term. The reception of more than 1,500 recognized refugees is an important first step to quickly help people in need. The Greek government remains responsible on the ground, but the EU can help it by accepting more recognized refugees, especially from the mainland. In addition, the EU is providing financial and logistical support to the camps.
The EU summit next week must also clarify its support for Turkey. Turkey itself has taken in around 4 million refugees. It also controls areas in Syria where a further 4 million people cannot secure their own livelihoods as internally displaced persons under civil war conditions. As Turkey is a key country in preventing refugee movements like those in 2015, the EU needs to work more closely with it to ensure adequate living conditions for refugees and reduce incentives for further migration towards Europe.
In addition, Germany should increase its participation in the UN resettlement program. The UN Refugee Agency identifies refugees in need of special protection in first-reception countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Niger (for migrants from Libya). These refugees are then accepted in Germany without further asylum procedures, which also reduces incentives for irregular migration.
Germany's reception capacities are not fully utilized. Initial applications for asylum in Germany are well below the politically set target of 200,000 annually, with only 142,000 last year (down from 162,000 in 2018). Since 2015, the necessary infrastructure for the reception, administration and integration of refugees has also significantly improved."