BRUSSELS: The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
German lawmakers have approved a plan to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia “safe countries of origin,” a move aimed at making it easier to send asylum-seekers from the three North African nations home quickly and deterring others from coming.
Parliament’s lower house voted 424-143 Friday to back the measure, with three lawmakers abstaining. It still requires approval from the upper house, which represents Germany’s 16 states.
Germany last year declared several Balkan nations whose citizens are barely ever granted asylum safe countries. That effectively reverses the burden of proof, with a country assumed to be safe unless an asylum applicant can prove persecution in his or her case.
Germany registered nearly 1.1 million people as asylum-seekers in 2015 and is keen to see far lower numbers this year.
Turkish European Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir is holding talks with senior European Union officials to try to end an impasse over part of the EU’s migrant deal with Turkey.
Bozkir meets Friday with the EU’s enlargement commissioner and foreign policy chief amid a standoff over whether Turkey should modify its anti-terror laws to secure visa-free travel in Europe for its citizens.
Bozkir said Thursday that “if there is a difficulty in this particular element then perhaps all of the elements of the package we have discussed and decided in the last months will be at stake.”
The visa waiver is an incentive — along with up to 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) and fast-track EU membership talks — for Turkey to stop migrants reaching Europe and take back thousands more.