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Germany suspends migrant intake from Italy

September 13, 2023

The voluntary agreement aimed to ease the burden on the southern EU border country. Germany's interior ministry has now paused it due to "high migratory pressure."

Three children and two women are disbarking a rescue ship with the assistance of a humanitarian helper.
Over 100,000 people have reached Italy's shores in 2023 so farImage: Salvatore Laporta//KONTROLAB/IPA/picture alliance

Germany will not be taking in migrants from Italy under a voluntary solidarity pact until further notice, the country's interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The agreement would have seen Germany take in 3,500 asylum seekers who had first entered the EU in Italy. This was meant to alleviate the situation in Italy, which is one of the EU's main entry points for migrants.

Germany took in 1,700 people before pausing the agreement.

Why has Germany suspended the solidarity pact?

The decision had been taken due to "the currently high migratory pressure on Germany," a spokesperson for the interior ministry told German newspaper WELT.

This pressure is in part caused by Italy's refusal to take back migrants from Germany in line with the so-called Dublin regulations, according to the ministry.

Under EU law, the member state that asylum seekers first enter is responsible for their asylum applications. This means thousands of migrants who have moved on from Italy to Germany have to be returned to Italy.

But Italy's right-wing government has not been allowing this since December 2022. Only ten out of 12,400 corresponding requests had been processed this year, the German ministry said.

Record migration numbers in Italy

Italy has the highest number of so-called 'irregular' migrants into the EU – people who often risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean by boat.

Around 100,000 are estimated to have arrived this year so far. The Italian coastguard reported on Wednesday that 5,000 people had reached the Island of Lampedusa in a single day.

EU ministers negotiated a migration deal earlier this year which aims to ensure fair distribution of asylum seekers across the EU. It is likely to be signed off by the EU Parliament in 2024.

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