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Border Management and Migration Controls – Germany Report

Hänsel,, Valeria; Hess, Sabine; Kasparek, Bernd

This country report analyses the border management and migration control policies of the Federal Republic of Germany in relation to the policies and regulations of the European Union. It outlines Germany’s hegemonic position within the European Union regarding migration management and border policies. We argue that the securitized perspective on migration policies – including the externalization strategy prevalent in the EU – is to a substantial degree rooted in discourses, policies, legislation and practices of Germany closely interwoven with European policies.

The hegemonic position of the Federal Republic of Germany has expressed itself in both the political developments since 2011 outlined in the report, and the increasingly restrictive German legislation on migration control. In several cases, German legislation has been transmitted to the European level.

Furthermore, there is a dominant narrative by federal ministries conceptualizing border security as an essential part of an “integrated migration management approach”. This perception has been strongly driven by the securitization of migration as response to migration movements to Europe, especially in the course of 2015 which were collectively perceived as a “refugee crisis”. The notion of “integrated migration management” expresses a perceived need to regulate migration through the close cooperation of actors on different levels and in different policy fields (economic cooperation and development, internal security, integration, foreign policy, police cooperation with other national and EU-external border officers, data exchange, as well as return and reintegration policies). In addition, exceptional measures such as the reintroduction of national border controls were implemented.

However, the report stresses that Germany’s border management cannot be reduced to policies at its national borders. What is more relevant is the vast number of externalization measures, both within and beyond the European Union. Through bilateral and multilateral police agreements as well as migration/readmission agreements with Member States, countries of origin and transit countries,

Germany has significantly advanced the European Union’s externalization of migration management. The German police are also actively involved with FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

In addition, the report outlines Germany’s restrictive border policies in the fields of pre-entry and internal controls (such as visa policies, carrier sanctions and veil searches), as well as in the field of detention and return. We analyse how the national policies to enforce speedy procedures and swift returns leads to a rise of encampment, detention and readmissions; the effects of these policies can be seen in EU policies that also endanger legal safeguards.

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