Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Germany piles on the pressure in refugee talks

  • "Wir schaffen das" ("we can do this") Merkel famously said at a press conference on 31 August, raising hopes for thousands of asylum seekers in Germany. (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

Germany raised the stakes in the refugees crisis on Tuesday (15 September), a day after EU ministers failed to agree on a mechanism to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers between member states.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Austria's Werner Faymann, called for an emergency summit of EU leaders next week to address the crisis at the highest level, a few hours after her interior minister hinted at cuts in EU funding for countries opposed to sharing refugees.

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.

"It is a problem for the entire European Union and therefore we argued for a special EU summit to be held next week," Merkel said at a joint press conference with Faymann in Berlin.

"Time is running out, we cannot wait until mid-October," she said. A regular EU summit is scheduled on 15-16 October, after the next interior ministers' meeting on 8 October.

It will be up to the president of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, to summon EU leaders. On Friday, Tusk said he would call a summit if ministers failed to agree on Monday. "Donald Tusk will look into that," Merkel said.

From Seoul, where he was Tuesday for an EU-Korea summit, Tusk said he would "continue consultations and announce [his] decision Thursday".

Merkel and Faymann were followed by Slovak PM Robert Fico in demanding an EU summit. But for entirely different reasons.

While Germany and Austria want a mechanism to relocate asylum seekers in all EU member states, Slovakia is one of the main opponents to the EU Commission proposal.

"In a serious and sensitive matter such as dictating to a country how many people it must accept, when it does not have the opportunity to choose these people, it is definitely a summit that should decide," Fico said on Tuesday.



According to an EU source, Hungary, the other main opponent to the relocation proposal, also insisted on an emergency summit during Monday's ministerial meeting.

If convened by Tusk, the EU summit is likely to be contentious, with certain countries asking for solidarity and others refusing to receive migrants.

In a message posted on Twitter, Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec said "the main problem in dealing with migration is currently the inconsistent German policy".

"Not even showing off muscles to neighbours across the border doesn't hide [the problem]," added Chovanec, who opposed a mandatory relocation mechanism at Monday's meeting.

'Blackmail'

The calls for a summit came a few hours after German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said he would support cuts in structural funds for countries opposing relocation.

"The negotiations situation is such that nothing happens to countries which refuse," he said on Germany's ZDF television.

"We need to talk about ways of exerting pressure. These are often countries that receive a lot of structural funds from the European Union," he said, adding that the EU Commission president "has suggested that we should look at whether these countries should get less structural funds, which I agree with".

The Commission denied any plan to cut EU funds over divergences on the migration issue.

"It was never an idea that came up, Juncker never said that," a Commission source said Tuesday. "The EU budget would have to be amended".

In her press conference, Merkel backtracked on the idea, saying "threats are not the right way to unity".

But after a tense ministerial meeting on Monday and imposition of controls at Germany's borders on Sunday, De Maiziere's declaration was interpreted as another means to pressure reluctant countries.

"It is not the most intelligent way for blackmailing," a diplomat said Tuesday.

"There are different ways of solidarity, like providing border guards, protecting external borders. To link solidarity only with this stupid quota system which is dealing with a symbolic part of the problem... Come on!," the diplomat added.

EU asylum talks end in weak compromise

Interior ministers mustered a weakened political agreement to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers amid a large influx of people seeking refuge in Europe.

Opinion

On the future of EU asylum and free movement rules

The Dublin regulation is already subject to occasional and selective suspension. Suspending Schengen free movement rules would erode one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

Germany reinstates EU border controls

Germany has introduced temporary border controls to block the free movement of refugees, putting pressure on eastern EU states to take more migrants.

Interview

Spanish NGO boat bosses face jail for rescuing Libya refugees

Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms had its rescue boat seized by Italian authorities in Sicily earlier this month. Three employees have been accused of migrant trafficking and face up to 15 years in jail and huge fines.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights