Wednesday

24th Apr 2019

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

German coalition talks in near collapse

Migration, climate and energy and finance policies are blocking the formation of a 'Jamaica' government between Christian-Democrats, liberals and Greens in Berlin.

News in Brief

  1. Political deadlock looms at Sunday's Spanish election
  2. Le Pen in Copenhagen for talks with new key ally
  3. Trump to meet May and Macron on Europe visit in June
  4. Johnson's sister to run in EU elections on new list
  5. Weber pledges to 'block' Nord Stream 2 as president
  6. UK warns migrants not to cross 'dangerous' Channel
  7. Austria's FPO publishes racist poem
  8. Spanish party leaders spar over Catalonia

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Opinion

The democratic swindle of the Spitzenkandidat

The Spitzenkandidat system has become an instrument of the promotion of MEPs (often German), and was supposed to make Europe more democratic. Reality has revealed the opposite.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Weber vow to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  2. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  3. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections
  4. Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals
  5. Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve
  6. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  7. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  8. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us