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Germany has announced new plans on restricting the flow of migrants which will include putting Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco on a "safe list" and enforcing a two-year ban on family reunions for asylum seekers granted limited refugee protection. The new measures come as a number of EU countries take measures to stem the flow of migrants through Europe.
After discussions, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives and their left-leaning Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners also agreed to speed up the deportations of failed applicants. The country can sometimes take months to complete the asylum application process and although 1,000 applications are rejected every day, only 18,000 migrants were deported in 2015.
The agreement on Thursday (28 January) included input from Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party, as well as the SPD, and will be a relief to party members as the debate the best way to deal with the migrant crisis dragged on. The new proposals will still need to be approved by the government and parliament before being implemented.
Germany estimates that over one million asylum seekers arrived at their borders in 2015. The country has remained divided since the Cologne sex attacks which saw a number of German women allegedly sexual assaulted on New Year's Eve by men of 'North African' or 'Arab' descent and sparked far-right Pegida protests as well as pro-migrant counter protests.
Elsewhere in the EU this week Sweden said as many as 80,000 people who arrived in the country in 2015 could fail in their requests for asylum and face deportation. And Denmark announced plans to remove items of value from immigrants to help fund their stay.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said: "The mood is good," after announcing the plans according to the Reuters news agency. Morocco has said it would repatriate any of its nationals who had arrived in Germany illegally. A person filing for asylum that comes from the safe list of countries is most likely to fail in their application.
As the debate over asylum seekers intensified, the CSU were originally threatening to take Merkel's government to court if the party's request to stem the flow of asylum seekers was not addressed.
This week, the UK has decided it will be taking 20,000 migrants until 2020 from camps in Syria but not from Europe this week.