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EU threatens visa restrictions in deportation row

Rebecca Staudenmaier
October 29, 2017

The European Union is upping the pressure on countries that don't take back rejected asylum-seekers by making it harder to obtain visas, a newspaper reported. The threat has already resulted in a deal with Bangladesh.

Rejected asylum-seekers are escorted by police in Leipzig to the airport
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow

The European Union has decided to take measures against countries that don't cooperate with repatriating migrants who have been denied asylum, according to a German newspaper report published on Sunday.

Welt am Sonntag reported that the 28-member bloc agreed to levy visa penalties on such countries, making it more difficult for their citizens to secure a visa to an EU country.

Read moreWhat is the status of German deportations to Afghanistan?

The European Commission confirmed to Welt am Sonntag that the visa threat has already resulted in a deal with Bangladesh, with officials in the country agreeing to comply with standard procedures for repatriations.

In the spring, a majority of migrants who crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy originated from Bangladesh.

Talks with other countries, particularly several African nations, are ongoing, Welt am Sonntag reported.

Read moreDemonstrators in Leipzig decry Afghan deportations

'Important approach' or 'Trump practice?'

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere welcomed the EU's decision, telling the newspaper that if there are regular difficulties when it comes to deporting rejected asylum-seekers, "it is only logical, in turn, to tack on stricter entry conditions for people from this country."

De Maiziere explained that the measures specifically target "those responsible for the slow readmissions, that is to say, officials and diplomats with passports of the country concerned."

No future for Afghan deportees

Read  moreGermany's rapid deportations of Salafist suspects ruled lawful

The minister noted that the deal with Bangladesh proves that the visa-pressure tactic works "when the EU-member states act together."

Bavarian state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called the new tactic "a very important approach." He told Welt am Sonntag that the process to repatriate rejected asylum-seekers only moves forward with difficulty "especially with regards to African nations."

"The European Union and the [German] government must increase pressure" in regards to those nations, Herrmann said.

Herrmann's Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister-party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, has been pushing for a yearly cap on asylum-seekers in Germany, particularly after losing many voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany.

Not all were pleased with the EU's latest measure, with Left Party co-head Katja Kipping questioning the reasoning behind the move.

"The Left Party does not support visa restrictions for repatriation-unwilling countries because it impacts the wrong people: tourists, students or people who want to work here," she told Welt am Sonntag.

The EU is using "questionable Trump practices by blaming ordinary citizens for their government's policies," Kipping added.