Germany to send some asylum-seekers back to Greece and speed up Family Reunification

Starting in September, Germany can refuse some asylum-seekers at the Austrian border and send them back to Greece, according to a new agreement between the two countries.

The good news: The deal also speeds up wait times for people waiting for Family Reunification to Germany.

Here's what we know about the deal and how it could affect you.

Who could be sent back to Greece?

The deal affects people trying to enter Germany at the German-Austrian border.

Anyone arrested during random checks at the German-Austrian border can be sent back to Greece if all 3 of these things are true:

* They are arrested at the border on or after September 1, 2018.

* They applied for asylum in Greece on or after July 1, 2017.

* Their fingerprints are in the European Central Database (Eurodac).

People who meet the above criteria but are younger than 18 and traveling alone won’t be sent back.

How will this agreement work in practice?

According to the Greek newspaper To Vima, Germany can only return people by flying them back to Athens within 48 hours after they were arrested at the border. Germany will cover all costs involved, from the moment Germany refused the asylum-seeker entry until his or her return to Greece.

Germany will inform Greece of each return by sending, either via email or fax, each person’s:

*Eurodac number

*Date and time of arrest or refusal of entry at the German-Austrian border

*Photograph

*Return flight information for Athens

Greece will have a 6-hour deadline to reject the return and prove that this person does not meet the requirements to be sent back.

Once an asylum-seeker is back in Athens, Greece has 7 days to prove that he or she did not meet the criteria to be returned. If Greece is successful in proving this, Germany will accept the returned asylum-seeker back without delay. In this case, Germany will again cover the costs for the person to re-enter Germany.

Additionally, 3 Greek and 3 German representatives will form a dedicated committee and meet every 3 months to review the implementation of the agreement and decide on whether it needs to be revised.

The agreement between Greece and Germany states that they will resolve any issues through inter-country negotiations.

How long is this agreement valid for?

This agreement could be automatically cancelled in about 3 months’ time once the European Union adopts a reformed set of rules on asylum, called the Common European Asylum System. Greece and Germany estimate this will take place by the end of 2018. Both countries have the power to stop or pause implementation of the agreement with a written notice at least 3 weeks in advance.  

I have asylum in Germany. Will I get sent back?

No, this deal only affects people trying to enter Germany at the German-Austrian border and who meet the criteria stated above.

What does Greece get in exchange?

In exchange, Germany agreed to take the following actions on Family Reunification from Greece to Germany:

* Complete the roughly 2,000 Family Reunification transfers approved before August 1, 2018, by the end of December.

* Process all Family Reunification applications that were approved before August 1, 2018.

* Examine and make a decision on all pending Family Reunification cases within 2 months from the agreement’s implementation date.

* Re-examine all disputed family reunification cases in a timely manner by the end of 2018.

Germany is expected to accept up to 600 people per month from September to the end of December 2018.

Is Germany making similar agreements with other countries?

This agreement between Greece and Germany comes after a similar deal between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, which was concluded in early August. Germany is still seeking to reach a similar compromise with Italy. However, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been unwilling to take refugees back from Germany.

Why is Germany making these agreements now?

The deals follow a dispute between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, over returning migrants. The dispute threatened to split the ruling coalition and bring down the government.