As Germany takes on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1st, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling for an inclusive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prioritises needs of the most vulnerable, including asylum seekers and refugees.  

Germany must use the next six months to ensure strong European leadership in the global response to coronavirus. The coming months will be crucial, with the negotiation of an unprecedented recovery instrument, embedded within its next long-term budget,  theMultiannual  Financial  Framework.  Commission  President von der  Leyen’s determination to invest in building better,  more inclusive societies for the next generation is commendable. But this brighter future cannot be achieved in isolation. The EU must also commit to supporting people in crisis-affected countries as they confront the social,  economic and political havoc this emergency has caused. This includes ensuring that reforming the EU’s own response to forced migration is kept firmly on the agenda.    

The long-awaited EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will be published under the German Presidency. We welcome the Presidency’s commitment to an ambitious reform of the Common European Asylum System and the intention to strengthen and build the EU’s resettlement capacity. This must be done in a way that puts people, rather than borders, at the heart of policies. German leadership will be essential to herald in the ‘fresh start’ the EU has long promised in its approach to migration, upholding the rights and dignity of refugees and people on the move as well as supporting EU member states in welcoming and integrating newcomers.  

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said:  

“There could hardly be a more tumultuous time for Germany to take on this rotating presidency, but it is incredibly important not just for Europe but the wider world, that Germany succeeds in facing the challenges of COVID-19.   

“We are facing an unprecedented crisis of the interconnected world, and strong decisive European leadership is needed now more than ever before. Germany is showing real leadership at the UN Security Council and it’s our hope it will use its influence to steward humanitarian action and strong diplomacy in fragile and conflict-affected states around the world. 

“As nations around the world retreat from their humanitarian and legal commitments, the EU must also step up and defend the right to seek asylum. The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum is an opportunity to reorient Europe’s approach, to build a strong foundation on which to shape an effective EU response to the challenges and opportunities from the movement of people around the world.”  

“With 1.45 million refugees in need of resettlement, The IRC is also calling on the German Presidency to ensure the EU urgently re-starts resettlement, comes as close as possible to fulfilling its commitment to resettle 30,000 refugees in 2020 and adopts a Union Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Framework that would enable 250,000 refugees to be resettled in the EU by 2025. 

“While COVID-19 will inevitably pose the most immediate challenge during this Presidency, it is vital that German leadership guarantees an inclusive response to and recovery from the worst impacts of the pandemic, ensuring that  migration and asylum do not fall by the wayside.”