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Traffic light coalition plans: migration agreements as a panacea?


Caring for migrants pushes the municipalities to their financial limits. The federal government wants to ensure that fewer people come to Germany without a right to stay – with new migration agreements.

In his new position, Joachim Stamp has not hit the headlines so far. Since February, the FDP politician has called himself the federal government’s special representative for migration agreements. And since then it’s been pretty quiet around him.

Apparently Stamp does not want to go into the media with water level reports, but rather with successes. In other words, with firmly agreed timetables on how illegal migration can be reduced. Because that is exactly one of the goals of the federal government, which it wrote in its coalition agreement.

One goal that’s difficult to achieve, Stamp admits on the government’s Inside the Government podcast. “There’s no point in thinking that you now have a special agent who will snap his fingers and in a few months the problems will be gone.”

Since February 1, Joachim Stamp has been the Federal Government’s special representative for migration agreements, based in the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland. Before that he was, among other things, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Integration in North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Smart agreements” are needed

Stamp speaks of “clever agreements” that need to be negotiated now, which also “hold up in practice.” This is often not the case with agreements that Germany has concluded with more than 30 countries in the past.

They call themselves repatriation agreements, and some have existed since the 1990s. The list includes countries such as Albania, Algeria, Morocco and Romania. Nevertheless, some of the states refuse to take back compatriots who do not have the right to stay in Germany. Stamp explains it this way: The countries would have no benefit from these agreements. Incentives are needed to get them to play along. A give and take.

“biggest Challenge for German diplomacy”

The migration researcher and political advisor Gerald Knaus has been dealing with such agreements for years. He calls her in the daily topics the “greatest challenge for German diplomacy”. And suggests that the federal government could offer the partner countries visa facilitation or scholarships for students at German universities.

According to Knaus, such promises would mean that politicians in the migrants’ countries of origin would have an interest in keeping their promises. So that they take back people without residence status in Germany. As an example, Knaus cites some Balkan states with which this system works.

Special representative Stamp is now working on such watertight agreements that do not only rely on repatriations. Negotiations are under way with Uzbekistan, for example, and a declaration of intent has already been signed. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Stamp is in confidential talks with other countries.

Further migration agreements would be conceivable, for example with countries in Africa. Stamp does not name a specific country on the continent, but reports in the government podcast about thousands of Africans who live in Germany and receive social benefits here. They in turn use this money to support their families back home.

Joachim Stamp is to negotiate migration agreements as a special representative of the federal government.

German social benefits as money transfer

The FDP politician observed something similar with migrants from Eastern Europe: People from Georgia or the Republic of Moldova come to Germany and apply for asylum here, which are rejected in 99 percent of cases. You can appeal against this decision. This often takes years because the administrative courts are overburdened. During this time, people in Germany receive social benefits. “And given the low wages in the countries, that’s attractive for some,” says Stamp.

He therefore wants to classify Georgia and Moldova as safe countries of origin. Germany should become less interesting as a destination for migrants from there. Because they would then have to file the lawsuit against the rejected asylum application in their home country. Which, according to Stamps, would take away the incentive to go to Germany if there were no longer any prospects of a long process in Germany – and therefore no social benefits either.

The dispute over the care of refugees has been smoldering for a long time. What about migration policy?

“Agreements are not the panacea”

“Migration agreements are not the panacea that traffic lights have been claiming for months,” says the domestic policy spokesman for the Union faction in the Bundestag, Alexander Throm. He wanted to know how the number of returns to India has developed since Germany signed an agreement with the government in New Delhi at the end of last year.

The answer of the federal government: Within four months, India took back 13 compatriots. For the whole of last year there were 52. That brings Throm to this comment: “As soon as the federal government concludes a migration agreement with India, the number of repatriations to this country decreases.” The CDU politician calls on the traffic light government to put more pressure on uncooperative states with which agreements already exist.

The special representative Stamp remains focused on new agreements: According to him, Georgia and Moldova are ready for migration partnerships. If they were sealed, illegal migration to Germany could drop by around ten percent, the special representative calculates. Because this proportion was made up of rejected asylum applications from Georgia and Moldova last year.