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Spanish and German governments agree on returning migrants

Saturday, 11 August, 2018 - 18:55

Spain has undertaken to take back migrants arriving in Germany who had previously lodged an asylum application on its soil. The agreement reached between the two countries came into effect on Saturday, when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez received German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his summer residence in the Doñana Natural Park in Andalusia.

This measure, the first of its kind between two European Union countries, is part of an agreement reached at the European Council at the end of June, a spokesman for the Spanish government said. Discussions are also underway between Berlin, Athens and Rome. Migrants already registered in Spain and on German soil may be transferred within 48 hours.

The migration issue was to be one of the main topics of the informal meeting of the two heads of government. For Angela Merkel, it is a question of appeasing the requirements of the Bavarian CSU of the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer.

For the Socialist Pedro Sanchez, who has been in power since early June, the issue of migrants could become a real problem at a time when he has very little support in Parliament. The number of migrants arriving in Europe has dropped drastically since 2015, but Spain has become the number one entry point, with more than 26,000 asylum seekers arriving since the beginning of the year.

To deal with this influx, the Spanish government announced on 3 August that it would consolidate its forces into a “single operational command” to better manage the arrival of illegal immigrants and spend 30 million euros on receiving migrants arriving on its shores. Sanchez also asked for the support of the European Commission, which granted him 30 million euros of emergency aid.

The Prime Minister also announced that Spain would strengthen cooperation and dialogue with Morocco and Tunisia.  We have to intensify our support for Morocco and Tunisia,” Merkel said. “They are border countries and they need our help.


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