On 4 May 2021 in a chamber decision the Administrative Court of Munich found the administrative arrangement between Germany and Greece, known as the “Seehofer Deal”, which facilitates the immediate return of asylum applicants from the German border with Austria to Greece, as “clearly unlawful” and in violation of European law. The court ordered to immediately return the concerned applicant from Greece to Germany, who had been deported in August 2020. The person concerned is represented by the lawyer Matthias Lehnert. The proceedings are supported by the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and PRO ASYL.
„The Administrative Court of Munich clearly states: procedural requirements and compliance with human rights cannot be bypassed by fast-track procedures at the border, especially by the Federal Police. The Dublin Regulation cannot be circumvented unilaterally or by an agreement between two Member States,“ emphasizes lawyer Matthias Lehnert. „But that’s what the federal government of Germany has done, and in doing so, it’s been breaking European law with its eyes wide open.“
Background to the case
The person concerned, a Syrian applicant, had initially applied for asylum in Greece. There he was threatened with deportation to Turkey due to the EU-Turkey deal. He continued his flight to Germany. On 13 August 2020 he was apprehended by the Federal Police at the German-Austrian border and expressed his wish to apply for asylum. Instead of initiating the procedure required under European law within the framework of the Dublin III Regulation at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Federal Police deported the Syrian concerned to Greece in application of the “Seehofer Deal” the following day. In Greece he was notified a rejection decision regarding his asylum application and a return decision to Turkey and was detained for several weeks before GCR was able to obtain his release. Since then he has been living homeless in Athens, threatened with deportation to Turkey.
The „Seehofer Deal“: refoulement at the German-Austrian border
The “Seehofer Deal” between Germany and Greece (a similar arrangement also exists with Spain) was concluded in 2018. It provides for the refusal of entry to protection seekers who were previously registered in Greece and who enter Germany via the border with Austria. They are to be detained and deported to Greece within 48 hours. As of June 2020, 39 people were affected by the deal between Greece and Germany (answer to question 42).
As Prof. Dr. Anna Lübbe already confirmed in her expert opinion in December 2018, the binding Dublin Regulation defines the procedure and criteria for whether and how an asylum seeker can be transferred from one Member State to another – after sufficient examination and with effective access to legal protection. The “Seehofer Deal” ignores this and places itself outside the existing law.
The deal itself was not even made available to members of the parliaments at first. It only became public thanks to PRO ASYL’s Greek partner organisation, Refugee Support Aegean.