It is a session at the end of April when the Bundestag is discussing deportations. “This coalition wants to start a repatriation offensive,” says FDP politician Stephan Thomae at the lectern. That is why a special representative for migration is needed, who concludes migration agreements with countries of origin. “I think it would be best in the Ministry of the Interior,” explains Thomae. “No!” calls the Green MP Filiz Polat.
The special representative for migration – this post is a sensitive topic within the traffic light. In the coalition agreement, the SPD, FDP and Greens had agreed to appoint such a representative. The migration agreements that he concludes with the most important countries of origin of migrants are intended on the one hand to open up legal paths for migration to Germany – but on the other hand to ensure that deportations can be successful. The coalition agreement also states: “We are launching a repatriation offensive in order to implement departures more consistently, in particular the deportation of criminals and those who are at risk.” This was important to the FDP.
But so far there is no such special representative. In response to a written question from the Union at the beginning of May, it was said: “The exact structure is currently the subject of consultations within the federal government.” This week it was also heard from the federal government that no decision had been made so far – although that could change soon .
A point of contention: Where should this officer be located? In the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) or in the Foreign Office? What seems like a formality could be crucial in directing the special agent. From traffic light circles it can be heard that a settlement in the Ministry of the Interior would mean that the special representative actually takes care of the fact that migrants who are not entitled to stay are returned to their countries of origin. A settlement in the green-led foreign ministry would probably focus more on admission commitments and humanitarian aid.
In the FDP, politicians like Thomae are therefore campaigning for the post to go to the Ministry of the Interior. From government circles it can be heard that the ball is now in the Chancellery and that the issue will soon be decided.
At the Union, they put pressure on the traffic light. The domestic political spokesman for the Union faction, Alexander Throm, accuses the traffic light of “simply refusing to work” in the area of repatriation policy. Almost six months after taking office, the government has nothing to show for the return of rejected foreigners who are required to leave the country, Throm told the Tagesspiegel. Should the special representative not be located in the BMI, from Throm’s point of view that would be a significant weakening of Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD).
The domestic policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Manuel Höferlin, in turn accuses the Union of having “criminally” neglected the issues of flight, migration, asylum and repatriations for years. A paradigm shift is now needed in migration policy, he told the Tagesspiegel. To this end, the government will conclude agreements with countries of origin, which should include, for example, the expansion of economic cooperation, technology transfer, visa facilitation, qualification measures and cooperation on the return of rejected asylum seekers. “The main task of the special representative for migration and repatriations will be to negotiate migration agreements with third countries and to organize repatriations and family reunifications in a consistent and orderly manner,” says Höferlin.
The topic of migration could soon become a more important topic again. As the Federal Ministry of the Interior reported in response to a request from the Tagesspiegel, almost 13,000 people who entered or were smuggled into Germany without permission were found in the first quarter – this is an increase of 34 percent compared to the previous year. The actual number of unauthorized entries could be even higher, since there are basically no stationary border controls except at the border with Austria. The checks are carried out randomly as part of the so-called veil manhunt. The Federal Ministry of the Interior assumes that the increase in illegal entries is related to the increase in illegal crossings at the EU’s external borders. At the beginning of the week, the border protection agency Frontex announced that a total of 57,800 illegal entries were registered on the main routes between January and April. That was 69 percent more than in the first four months of 2021. War refugees from Ukraine are not included in these statistics. Almost half of all illegal border crossings were recorded via the Western Balkans route.