© François Aulner
“Luxembourg is practically the last country in the European Union to have practiced an open asylum policy and is now taking a more realistic path,” Kartheiser told RTL Radio on Friday morning.
The ADR MP commented on the Luxembourg government's recent decision to tighten the rules on asylum seekers. Single men who have already filed applications for asylum in other EU countries are being placed on waiting lists, rather than receiving accommodation in refugee structures; as a consequence, many are now sleeping rough around the country.
The ADR says the current situation means that both Luxembourg and the EU's migration policies have failed. During the interview, Kartheiser told RTL that his party has been emphasising this since 2015, saying that "massive migratory waves are undermining the right to seek asylum in the EU."
Kartheiser said it was necessary to differentiate between the right to asylum - which the ADR favours and wants to preserve - and economic migration. "In order for the acceptance of asylum to remain within the population, and for the necessary resources to become available, we cannot have a large wave of migration for other reasons - such as economic reasons. It cannot become predominant as it will put the right to seek asylum into question," he declared.
A number of asylum seekers currently arriving in Luxembourg have travelled from Italy, whose right-wing conservative leader Giorgia Meloni's party is part of the same group as the ADR within the European Parliament. Kartheiser said Italy and other Mediterranean countries are "overwhelmed" by refugees and did not need further pressure on their resources. But he also insisted that criminal networks are "smuggling" asylum seekers from Italy to Luxembourg, and added that he believes the Luxembourg government has been too tolerant of this alleged practice to date. The ADR MP said he hoped the new CSV-DP coalition government would crack down on criminal networks involved in the practice of human trafficking.
However, humanitarian organisations say one of the main issues faced by Luxembourg is the lack of accommodation available to asylum seekers, and the lack of housing in general. In addition, just a third of the country's municipal councils responded to acting foreign minister Jean Asselborn's call to make more accommodation available to refugees. In response to this, Kartheiser commented that the municipalities' autonomy should not be called into question, and said it was up to each local authority to decide on their policy regarding refugees.
The MP added that other opposition parties such as the Left, the Communist party and the socialists had criticised the current migration policy, saying it created competition amongst socially disadvantaged people in matters concerning resources and housing. Is this not precisely down to the fact that not enough housing is being built in Luxembourg?
"We have a big housing issue anyway, which is linked to growth," Kartheiser said. But he believes this is not down to municipalities' autonomy, but instead ascribes the difficulty to Europe's incapacity to "live and impose its rule of law on migration policy."