On Tuesday (26 January), the Danish parliament overwhelmingly approved of a controversial new measure that would allow immigration authorities to seize assets that worth over 10000 kroner (£1000) from asylum seekers to cover the cost of their stay. In addition, several other policies were concurrently introduced to deter the influx of migrants. These include extending the waiting period for refugees to apply for family reunion from one year to three, and tightening conditions required for permanent residency permits.
The proposals have been strongly criticised by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as many human right organisations. They denounced the seizures as an affront to the dignity of refugees, while arguing the delay of family reunion was in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Danish government defended the seizure of migrants’ assets, claiming that unemployed Danes also need to relinquish assets above a certain threshold before they become eligible for benefits.
The Danish parliament’s action follows a similar seizure policy in Switzerland and southern states of Germany. As migrants continue to enter Europe in record levels, countries have moved to adopt more restrictive policies to stem further inflows. Earlier this week, the interior ministers of member states of the European Union have signalled their intentions to temporarily suspend the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement across most EU countries, after a meeting in Amsterdam.
Are the new Danish policies appropriate and justified? Is the Schengen Agreement all but certain to collapse? What is Europe’s best long-term response to this ongoing migrant crisis? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. Here are a few pieces of news articles for you to find out more about the issue: