Germany strikes ‘Merkel-Saving’ migration deal with Spain, Greece

EPA/PATRICK SEEGER via Naftemporiki

Politico — Spain, Greece and Germany struck a trilateral migration deal of “reciprocal cooperation” in addition to a wider EU migration deal reached at an EU summit Friday, the Spanish and Greek governments confirmed.

DPA, a Germany news agency, reported Saturday that Merkel has secured “rapid return” migration deals with 14 countries: Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic later denied that they had ever accepted such an agreement.

The Spanish government, in a written statement, said Germany will return asylum seekers to Spain whose “first entry into the European Union was Spain” and cover the cost of returning the asylum seekers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel requested the deal, Spain said, in meetings on the EU summit sidelines with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

In return, Germany will allow family reunification to take place in the country, reuniting 2,900 people who currently live in Greece with their families in Germany, according to Greek daily Kathimerini.

Tsipras said he was confident Greece would be able to handle the arrival of asylum seekers, as only around 100-150 people each month are currently leaving Greece for Germany.

Tspiras said Germany and Spain have committed to promoting EU initiatives to help Greece in the event of a new migration crisis and to lend financial assistance to the five eastern Aegean islands, including a delay to a VAT-rate increase that Greece argued would disrupt the island economies, according to the report.

The wider EU migration agreement, clinched in the early hours of Friday morning, will seek to minimize so-called “secondary movements” of migrants, who register in one EU country and then cross into another.