Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Merkel agrees to curb migration, upsets Greens

  • Coalition talks come amid rise of AfD (Photo: CDU/Facebook)

Germany will take in no more than 200,000 asylum seekers a year under a new centre-right deal that threatens to make coalition talks more difficult.

The decision was enshrined in a joint policy document, agreed by chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, on Sunday (8 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Schaeuble (r) set to become Bundestag speaker (Photo: bundesregierung.de)

"We want to achieve a total number of people taken in for humanitarian reasons (refugees and asylum seekers, those entitled to subsidiary protection, family members, relocation and resettlement minus deportations and voluntary departures of future refugees) that does not exceed 200,000 people a year", the text said.

It said the figure could be greater if there were "unexpected international or national developments".

It pledged to detain asylum seekers in secure centres to make it easier to send them home if their applications failed.

It added that Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia were safe enough to return people from there as a matter of course.

It also targeted the rise of far-right sentiment in Germany, saying: "We must fight the AfD [an anti-immigrant party] hard, and fight for its voters".

"It's a good day for the conservatives and a good day for Germany," CSU general secretary Andreas Scheuer said.

The pact represents a U-turn for Merkel's previous open door policy, which let in well over 1 million migrants over the past three years.

It also represents an obstacle in the CDU/CSU's attempt to form a coalition with the liberal FDP party and the Greens following last month's election.

"This is … far from the result of exploratory talks for a coalition," Greens co-leader Simone Peter said on Sunday.

She said that setting a de facto "upper limit" on asylum seekers could violate German and international law.

"We will not participate in deprivation programmes," she said.

Pro Asyl, a German NGO, added: "Human rights do not know any upper limit, no one can be rejected in a situation where they are threatened with torture or inhuman treatment."

The CDU/CSU accord comes after the AfD won 92 seats in the Bundestag, marking a return of the far-right to the political mainstream for the first time in 50 years.

But outgoing German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday in the Financial Times, a British newspaper, that "there's no chance Germany will ever relapse into nationalism".

"There's no reason to believe that democracy and the rule of law are in danger," he said.

Schaeuble's farewell

Schaeuble also warned that the world risked a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis due to the trillions of euros that central banks had pumped into financial markets and due to non-performing loans in European lenders.

"Economists all over the world are concerned about the increased risks arising from the accumulation of more and more liquidity and the growth of public and private debt. I myself am concerned about this, too," he said.

He spoke shortly before stepping down from his post to become parliament speaker.

Schaeuble, the mastermind of the EU's austerity policy, which imposed budget cuts on countries such as Greece, Ireland, and Portugal in return for bailouts, defended his legacy.

He said "austerity" was, "strictly speaking, an Anglo-Saxon way of describing a solid financial policy which doesn't necessarily see more, or higher deficits as a good thing".

"We have to ensure that we will be resilient enough if we ever face a new economic crisis," he said.

EU hopes German elections lead to 'better Europe'

Jean-Claude Juncker's right-hand man suggested a favoured form of coalition by tweeting a Jamaican flag, the symbol of a government with the christian-democrats, the liberals and the Greens.

Analysis

Merkel's win heralds uncertain time

On Sunday, Germans elected Angela Merkel for her fourth term in office. However, she may be facing her most difficult period yet as chancellor.

Opinion

The unbearable lightness of leadership

Politicians and civic leaders need a new sense of optimism if they are to avoid mere 'sticking plaster' solutions to migration.

Czech election stalemate on joining euro

Whilst committed to joining the euro in theory, most Czech parties seem to be stonewalling on 'when' in the run-up to the 20-21 October election - and Andrej Babis, favourite to be prime minister, has ruled it out.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe