Germany, Italy call for EU-wide migrant registration system: paper

Reuters
Migrants arrive at a refugee shelter in Berlin
Migrants arrive at a refugee shelter in Friedenau city hall in Berlin's Tempelhof-Schoeneberg district, Germany, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and Italy's interior ministers have written to the European Commission calling for an EU-wide system to register migrants and a harmonization of selection procedures and rights for asylum seekers, a German newspaper reported.

In the letter seen by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Italy's Angelino Alfano called for an "ambitious reform" of the Dublin rules - which oblige migrants to request asylum in the first EU country they enter - by means of a "newly adjusted Common European Asylum System".

The EU has been seeking to establish a Common European Asylum System since 1999 but differences between member countries have persisted despite attempts to unify asylum laws in the bloc.

Germany and Italy's interior ministers said in their letter to European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos that an EU-wide registration mechanism that includes security checks should be set up with the help of EU border agency Frontex.

They also called for a harmonization of the differing conditions throughout the bloc for accepting migrants, selection procedures and rights for asylum seekers. They said the EU's Asylum Support Office (EASO) should get extra staff and funds so it could become a "real European asylum agency".

They suggested identifying people in need of protection within their countries of origin or transit countries before bringing them to Europe - the approach currently being pursued in the EU's cooperation with Turkey - and said the aim was to create an "institutionalized relocation system in the EU".

The EU's external borders need to be secured to sustainably reduce the influx and refugees should be spread around the bloc by means of set annual quotas, they said.

In the midst of the worst migration crisis in Europe since World War Two, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have been among the staunchest opponents of EU plans to transfer asylum seekers arriving in southern Europe to other EU states.

The ministers called for an EU list of safe countries of origin and said a "robust and coordinated European repatriation mechanism" was needed to send illegal economic migrants back to their countries of origin.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Matthew Lewis)