Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Germany takes political lead on migration crisis

  • French PM Valls has described Calais as a 'dead end' for migrants hoping to get to the UK (Photo: Jey OH photographie)

Germany is taking the political lead on EU migration, as it faces some 800,000 applications this year alone.

On Monday (31 August), German chancellor Angela Merkel said the nation and the whole of the EU must find an urgent solution to Europe's migration problem.

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.

"We have many examples where we showed we can respond. Remember the bank rescues. During the international financial crisis, the federal and state governments pushed through the necessary legislation in a matter of days", she said.

She said similar efforts to save the banks must be made to address the refugee crisis, described as the worst since WWII.

Last week, Germany eased asylum rules for Syrian refugees, meaning they will no longer be returned to the point-of-entry EU country for their asylum application to be processed, as required by EU rules.

Germans have also opened their homes to refugees amid far-right protests against migrants in the eastern town of Heidenau.

"There is no tolerance for those who question the dignity of other people," Merkel said.

She announced the government will propose legislation near the end of September worth "billions" to better separate legitimate asylum seekers from economic migrants.

Her comments, among the strongest to date, follow similar calls to action by French prime minister Manuel Valls and EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans in Calais, also on Monday.

“People will continue to flee persecution, conflict, to assure their futures and protect their children, their families. And the European Union will continue to welcome them”, said Timmermans.

With thousands seeking refuge in the EU arriving on a daily basis, many risking their lives in the process, migration has become the biggest and thorniest issue facing European politicians.

The first six months of this year saw 340,000 people seeking refuge in Europe. The total represents 0.07 percent of Europe’s around 500-million strong population.

On Monday, Austria increased controls of it border with Hungary as it searched vehicles suspected of harbouring smuggled people.

The security checks, which are creating huge traffic jams, come after 71 Syrians were last week found dead in the back of a food delivery truck on a highway in Austria.

The Calais visit with Timmermans and EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos was, in part, meant to support a Franco-German push declared last week.

“We need a collective response. There is no national solution”, said Timmermans.

The commission wants to create a permanent system to relocate asylum seekers that can be triggered in times of crisis. It is meant to be announced before the end of year.

It follows a similar plan to distribute 40,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy over two-year period based on binding quota system.

But EU leaders in July rejected the mandatory quota and instead agreed to relocate 32,256. Austria and Hungary refused to take in any. The UK opted out. Denmark is not involved.

France, for its part, backs the relocation system but opposes mandatory quotas.

The leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia are, at a summit in Prague on Friday, to reiterate their opposition to any binding EU scheme.

New Calais reception centre

Meanwhile, the commission on Monday released over €5 million in emergency funding for France. Some of it will be used to finance a new reception centre with 1,500 beds in Calais.

There are 3,500 people in Calais, up from around 400 less than a year ago. Many are fleeing war in Syria and all want to go to the UK.

But Valls had a strong warning for those making the trip to the UK via Calais.

“Coming to Calais means throwing oneself into a dead end”, said Valls, noting security has been stepped up around the Channel tunnel and the port.

Valls also said France has dismantled over 170 smuggling networks, involving about 800 people, in the first seven months of 2015.

Trains packed with migrants arrive in Vienna

Hungary has said Berlin should clarify the legal status of migrants travelling within the EU, as thousands of refugees in Budapest demand to travel to Germany.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap