Help the refugees

If you move around the world by choice, consider helping those forced from their homes by conflict. Donate to the UN Refugee Agency today.

Home News Swiss migration chief calls for reform of European asylum policy

Swiss migration chief calls for reform of European asylum policy

Published on 21/09/2019

Switzerland’s State Secretary for Migration Mario Gattiker has criticised the current European asylum policy of redistributing migrants rescued at sea. 

“We do not consider it reasonable to allocate persons to countries… even if they have no valid grounds for asylum.” And this situation “applies to many people who disembark,” said Gattiker in an interview published in the Swiss papers on Saturday. According to him, what is needed above all are rapid asylum processing procedures and a coherent repatriation policy in the first country of arrival. 

The 62-year-old official said that Europe has not made much progress since the refugee crisis on the issue of redistribution of asylum seekers among countries. He was optimistic that the new European Commission, which will assume office in November under its German President Ursula von der Leyen, will “bring a breath of fresh air and new approaches”.  

A reform of the Dublin Agreement on asylum, of which Switzerland is a member, would be more “effective” than “short-term solutions”, he added. “Less bureaucratic and faster procedures are needed, as well as a mechanism to ease the burden on states on the external border [of the European Union] in crisis situations”. 

Uniform guidelines 

Gattiker also called on the EU to adopt a uniform asylum practice. “It is not possible for people from Afghanistan to be granted the right to stay in one country in 90% of cases and in another, in 40% of cases,” he said. The top official warned that these differences lead to intra-European migration. 

Gattiker also dismissed criticism of Switzerland’s lack of generosity towards refugees. “We have shown that we were very supportive during the refugee crisis, especially by accepting 1,500 migrants from Greece and Italy,” he said. 

On Monday, representatives from France, Italy, Germany, Finland (which holds the rotating EU Presidency) and the European Commission will meet in Vittoriosa, Malta to find consensus on a provisional quotas for the distribution of asylum seekers. The proposal is then to be submitted to the heads of state and other government officials in October.