Theo Francken: “EU asylum policy is totally insane”

The Belgian asylum and migration secretary Theo Francken has labelled EU asylum legislation as "totally insane" after it emerged a Serbian woman and her four children cannot be repatriated because one of the children has now applied for asylum.  The family of five is staying at the Steenokkerzeel repatriation centre ahead of removal.

The repatriation was planned for today but cannot now go ahead.  The Serbian woman and her four children refused to leave voluntarily and were subsequently locked up in the centre at a new facility for families. They have already been taken to Serbia once but returned.

The family can stay at Steenokkerzeel for a month.  If they have not been repatriated by then they will have to be released.

Mr Francken believes the family is trying to win time: “EU law envisages that minors can apply for asylum.  This is intended for 17-year-olds who wish to apply against the wishes of their parents.  How can a child of 6 apply for asylum?"

The asylum secretary is not impressed: "I assume the Serbian family didn't find this loophole on its own account. European asylum policy is totally insane.  You can keep on starting procedures.  These people have completed the procedures.  Serbia is a safe country."