Norway had the largest decrease in asylum applications in Europe

Minister Per SandbergMinister Per Sandberg.Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

From 2015 to 2016, the number of asylum seekers in Norway decreased by 89 percent, according to fresh figures from the EU’s statistical office.

The decline in Norway, according to Eurostat figures, is greater than in all other EU and EEA countries.

From 2015 to 2016, the number of asylum seekers to Norway decreased by 89 percent, followed by Sweden (86 percent), Finland (84 percent), Hungary (84 percent) and Denmark (71 percent).

– We could not continue to live with the situation of such  large and virtually uncontrolled immigration, and I think everyone agreed on that, Minister Per Sandberg told the newspaper VG.

He is currently covering for Immigration and Integration minister Sylvi Listhaug.

Sandberg says that Norway has become less attractive to asylum seekers, but stresses that the government will not open for refugee quotas although the decline has been that large.

– No, the government has not reasoned that we should increase the number of ‘quota refugees’, says Sandberg.

The minister believes a new migration wave to Europe at this point would be downright dangerous.

– Severe for Europe if the agreement collapses
It is now a year since the controversial refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey came into being. Turkey has lately repeatedly threatened that the Refugee Agreement could be terminated, and this would send floods of refugees towards Europe.

Sandberg says it will be serious for both Norway and Europe if the agreement was terminated. A total of 1.2 million first time applications were registered in 2015- 2016 according to Eurostat, and six out of ten applied for asylum in Germany.

– We should be cautious, because of what is now happening in Europe regarding social unrest in a number of countries and many forthcoming general elections . If Turkey makes earnest of this threat, it will increase the social unrest in many European countries, says Sandberg.

– Europe has greater need than ever for social calm. A large migration wave, with the present situation in Europe, could be outright dangerous, stressed Sandberg.

He believes the turmoil now seen in Europe is beacuse of people feeling insecure, and calls for ‘actionable politicians’ who can create security.

– You mean the insecurity and instability is related to immigration?

– A lot of this is about seeing that our external borders have not been as secure as they should have been, claims Sandberg.

Skei Grande – Advocating more quota refugees

The new Eurostat figures are the first registration figures of asylum seekers. The Liberal leader Trine Skei Grande stressed that Norway is at the top regarding the number of quota refugees.

– It is no end in itself to have the highest possible number of asylum seekers, she says. The good thing is that Norway is amongst the most generous in the world , alongside the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK, when it comes to accepting Resettlement refugees, says Skei Grande to VG referring to the list of ‘quota refugees’.

In 2015  large amounts of unregistered asylum seekers walked from Greece through Europe – where they had been first registered. 31,145 people applied for asylum in Norway in 2015.

But since then, the routes have been closed. The number that was initially registered in Greece went up by 339 percent from 2015 to 2016. In Italy, the number of asylum seekers has gone up by 46 percent.

Meanwhile, Norway had a fall of 89 per cent , and in 2016  only 3240 persons applied for asylum in Norway.

– As we now get fewer asylum seekers, it would be good to take our share when we allocate refugees in Europe.  We will now evaluate the agreement and it is expedient to accept more ‘quota refugees’  if we have fewer people arriving as asylum seekers, says Skei Grande.

January: The refugees in Europe and an icy winter

Sandberg warns against sending signals

Per Sandberg stresses the value of low arrivals, partly because he believes it enables faster and better integration. He says much of the decline in the number of asylum seekers coming to Norway is all about psychology.

– I will not go into it now, but we saw the decision that Labour made at its national convention in 2015, says Sandberg, referring to Labour then agreeing to accept 10,000 ‘quota refugees’.

– I will not go into it, but that gives out a signal about liberalization and open borders, encouraging those who are migrating to  apply to that country. One cannot go around and say that we should discuss this matter in the open arena in Norway, and believe that these signals do not reach those distant areas that have millions and millions and millions people displaced or in motion, says Sandberg told VG.


Source: VG / Norway Today