EU seeks to quell fears amid German and Austrian backlash at refugee ‘family member’ rules

BRUSSELS has moved to reassure member states that new family reunification rules for migrants will not lead to an increase in immigration following a backlash in Germany and Austria.

By NICK GUTTERIDGE

German MPs had reacted with outrage at suggestions that changes to the regulations governing which family members refugees can bring to live with them could unleash a new wave of migration on Europe.

Currently only spouses and under age children who were already part of the same family unit before leaving home for Europe are entitled to be automatically reunited within the EU.

But under the proposals Brussels bureaucrats want to redefine what constitutes a ‘family’ member to include relationships which began after asylum seekers left their home countries.

Bundestag members had warned the alterations would undermine the EU-Turkey deal, which has significantly reduced the numbers of migrants entering the continent through Greece, blasting them as “unacceptable”.

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German MP Stephan Mayer had blasted the plans as ‘unacceptable’

But responding to the criticism today a spokeswoman for the EU Commission insisted that the rule changes will only affect asylum seekers who are already in Europe.

Addressing a news conference in Brussels, Tove Ernst said: “The Commission has not proposed any changes that would increase the rights of family members living outside the EU to join family members in the EU.

“What we have proposed to change is the family reunification for asylum seekers who are already present in the EU – meaning families and asylum seekers present on the EU territory – to be able to reunite in the same EU member states.

“We have not extended the right for family reunification for those family members outside the EU these rules remain unchanged.”

The statement was an attempt to quell growing unease that the rule change would lead to a surge in applications for reunification from outside the EU.

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Nick Gutteridge is a senior reporter at Daily Express Online

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