For several years now, European states have been trying to strengthen human rights observation and to make sea rescue at the EU's external borders more difficult and to criminalise it. Germany has now also issued further rules that could spell the end for the missions of some aid organisations. The model for this approach seems to be the Netherlands where similar reasons were used last year to obstruct sea rescue operations.
The change in law followed a lengthy legal battle. After the Federal Ministry of Transport fixed the observation vessel "Mare Liberum" in April 2019, the association sued and was upheld by the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court in September 2019, so that the ship could continue to operate.
With a current regulation, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer is specifically making humanitarian aid at Europe's external borders more difficult. The German government has been pursuing this goal for some time, but has so far been defeated in court. Now the transport ministry is creating a new legal basis for itself in order to be able to legally detain ships because they cannot meet the new security requirements.
Security concerns are only a pretext
New excuses are always being sought to prevent humanitarian aid at Europe's external borders. Meanwhile legislators are arguing with the safety of people on the water in order to prevent sea rescues. That such arguments are being used in the face of thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean is more than cynical.
The German government is obviously trying to prevent the observation of the human rights situation in the Mediterranean. In speeches, it continues to emphasise the relevance of human rights and sea rescue, but away from the public eye it then does the opposite. Anyone who acts in this way gambles away the credibility of politics.
Preventing sea rescue, firing on those seeking protection, undignified and life-threatening conditions in European refugee camps: when one looks at Europe's external borders and the actions of European states, one unfortunately wonders when the EU member states will have to declare moral insolvency.