Preventing irregular migration: Georgia and Moldova to be designated safe countries of origin
30 August 2023
Federal Cabinet adopts draft legislation to speed up processing of asylum applications
The Federal Cabinet today adopted a proposal for legislation submitted by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community which seeks to classify Georgia and the Republic of Moldova as safe countries of origin. Safe countries of origin are those in which the authorities generally see no need for citizens to fear persecution by the state and where the state is in principle capable of protecting its citizens against persecution by non-state agents. Asylum applicants may dispute this assumption during the asylum procedure; every application is still examined individually.
Classifying Georgia and Moldova as safe countries of origin could speed up asylum proceedings of their nationals. The proposed legislation is also intended to make it easier to terminate the stay in Germany of those whose applications for asylum have been denied.
Following the Cabinet decision, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said,
“We are meeting our humanitarian responsibility towards people who are fleeing persecution, war and terror. This is true particularly for the more than one million people who have fled to Germany to escape Putin’s barbarous war in Ukraine. Providing refuge for them continues to require enormous effort. At the same time, the numbers of people from other countries who are seeking protection here has again increased. That requires definite measures to manage migration as a whole and significantly reduce irregular migration. And it means that those who do not need our protection and do not have a right to stay in Germany must leave our country.
To limit irregular migration, we will therefore take the further step of classifying Georgia and Moldova as safe countries of origin. Both countries want to join the European Union. People in Georgia and Moldova do not as a rule face political persecution. More than one in ten unsuccessful asylum applications is filed by nationals of these two countries, so declaring them safe countries of origin will reduce irregular migration quickly and effectively. At the same time, we plan to conclude migration agreements with Georgia and Moldova.”
Dr Joachim Stamp, Federal Government Special Commissioner for Migration Agreements, said,
“More than ten per cent of all unsuccessful asylum applications come from Georgia and Moldova. In my talks with government representatives in these countries, they have expressed the desire to work more closely with us to end this situation. Classifying Georgia and Moldova as safe countries of origin will go a long way to reduce the burdens on our communities and courts and will significantly speed up the processing of asylum applications. We will now be able to negotiate targeted migration agreements with both countries.”
From January to July 2023, Georgian nationals filed 6,612 asylum applications in Germany; the figure for Moldovan nationals was 1,910. The overwhelming majority of these applications were denied. The recognition rate for applicants from the two countries was approximately 0.15% (not counting national deportation bans).
For asylum applicants from safe countries of origin, in most cases the relevant time limits are shortened, in particular those for appeals against a denial of the asylum application. Equally important, appeals no longer suspend the process.
Asylum applicants from safe countries of origin are generally required to live in the reception centre responsible for them until their asylum application has been decided on; if the application is denied, they must stay in the reception centre until they leave Germany. Minor children and their parents or guardians are exempted from this rule. Finally, asylum seekers from safe countries of origin are not allowed to work while their application is being processed. However, Georgian and Moldovan nationals who filed an asylum application before the Federal Cabinet’s decision or who were staying in Germany on that date on the basis of a temporary suspension of deportation may continue to work or may be given permission to work.
Safe countries of origin are those in which it may be assumed, based on the democratic system and the general political situation, that there is generally no need to fear persecution by the state, and that the state can in principle protect its citizens against persecution by non-state agents. Protection against persecution by non-state agents means, for example, that laws and regulations exist to protect the public, and that these laws and regulations are also enforced. In this case, it is generally presumed that no risk of persecution exists.
The personal interview for applicants from safe countries of origin does not differ in any way from the interview for other applicants, and applicants from safe countries of origin can be granted protection if they are found to need it. In the personal interview, applicants from safe countries of origin have the opportunity to present facts or evidence to show that they are in fact at risk of persecution, despite the general presumption that no such risk exists. If these facts or evidence are convincing, applicants may be granted asylum.
In Germany, the following countries are currently designated safe countries of origin:
• the member states of the European Union,
• Ghana and Senegal (since 1993),
• Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and present-day North Macedonia (since 2014),
• Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro (since 2015).