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News > World

Germany Inks Deal With Spain To Return Registered Migrants

  • A poster by Germany's anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland reads 'Vote AfD,' September 2017.

    A poster by Germany's anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland reads 'Vote AfD,' September 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 August 2018

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been under pressure to reduce the number of new arrivals in a toxic atmosphere of rising racism and xenophobia across Europe.

Berlin has concluded a deal with Madrid for Spain to take back migrants who had been registered by Spanish authorities, a German interior ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, as Germany seeks to curb new arrivals.

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Under the accord, which will enter in to force on August 11, the migrants "could be sent back to Spain within 48 hours," said interior ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann, adding that Madrid did not lay down any condition in exchange.

The deal is part of a series of bilateral agreements that Germany is seeking with EU partners, after a broader accord for the bloc proved elusive.

Besides Spain, Greece — another key arrival country for migrants who had undertaken the perilous sea journey crossing the Mediterranean — has also in principle agreed to such a deal, Berlin said in June.

Italy's new far-right government has been more reluctant, putting its focus on boosting controls at the EU's external borders.

Discussions with both Athens and Rome are "not over," said Petermann.

But Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had said in an interview published Sunday that talks with his Italian and Greek colleagues were ongoing "in a good atmosphere."

Last month, EU states agreed to tighten controls at their external borders and spend more on security checks in the Middle East and North Africa to bring down the number of arrivals, at the expense of human rights and security for the people trying to cross the see. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel, under the pressure of the right-wing elements of her coalition, agreed Monday to set up migrant camps on the German border, in a bid to remain in power.

But planned new centers around the Mediterranean to handle migrants and asylum seekers will be no silver bullet solution to the European Union's immigration challenge, warned the United Nations, arguing the much-publicized idea of Mediterranean camps would only work together with opening up more legal ways to get to Europe from non-EU countries.

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