Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Merkel: Germany needs to reduce number of refugees

  • Merkel: "Even a strong country like Germany is on the long term is overstrained by such a large number of refugees." (Photo: CDU)

German chancellor Angela Merkel tried on Monday (14 December) to maintain her authority and reconcile her migration policy with her own party's demands for change.



In a speech to the Christian-Democrat Union's (CDU) congress in Karlsruhe, she said she wants to "noticeably reduce the number of refugees" coming to Germany, but she stopped short from mentioning an "upper limit" on the number of migrants.

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.

"Even a strong country like Germany is in the long term overstrained by such a large number of refugees," Merkel said.

A curb in Germany's refugee policy is "in Germany's and Europe's interest, and in the interest of refugees," she added.

Her words had been agreed on Sunday ahead of the congress, to avoid a public row between herself and party ranks more hostile to large numbers of refugees being welcomed in Germany.

Last week, German authorities said that 965,000 people have been registered as asylum seekers so far this year. According to estimates made in August, Germany expected around 800,000 for the whole year.

'Practical test'

On Sunday, the leader of the CDU youth branch Paul Ziemiak said that not setting a cap on the number of refugees would be "careless" because "Germany's possibilities are finite".

His words echoed declarations from other party officials as well as a majority of German public opinion.

"There are objective limits" to what Germany can do in terms of Kindergarten, apartments and languages courses, said Reiner Haseloff, the minister-president of the Land of Saxe-Anhalt.

According to an opinion poll published over the weekend by Bild, the tabloid newspaper that has supported Merkel's refugee policy, 62 percent of Germans are now in favour of an "upper limit" on the number of refugees.

In her speech, Merkel defended once again her action.

Receiving all the refugees coming to Germany was "no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative," she told party delegates.

"Germany is a strong country," Merkel added. "We'll make it, for Germany and for Europe," she said, using once again the motto - "Wir schaffen das" - she used several time since August.

The chancellor also insisted that the refugee crisis is not only a challenge for Germany, but "a practical test for Europe," she said.

"I am sure it will pass it. Even when what we do is endlessly exhausting," she assured.

The chancellor explained that the situation will improve only if the EU can take common measures at all levels of the migration crisis.

She mentioned the strengthening of EU borders and the setting up of hotspots in Italy and Greece; the fight against root causes of migration, in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan; the humanitarian and development aid; and cooperation with Turkey.

Schengen is 'vital'

While Germany has reintroduced border controls in the Autumn to face the crisis, Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to the Schengen free-travel area.

No country is as dependent on Schengen as Germany," she said adding that the area was "of vital importance" for the country.

Looking at the events of recent months, from the Paris attacks in January and November to the migrant crisis, from the German Wings disaster in March to the continuing war in Ukraine or the Greek crisis, Merkel said the year has been "unbelievable".

"Such an intensity, such a succession of events, like I had never experienced," the chancellor said.

At the end of her 1-hour long speech, criticised but still unchallenged, Merkel received a standing ovation for several minutes.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. Belgian PM to host 11 EU leaders ahead of summit
  2. Tusk all but rules out pan-EU candidates in 2019 elections
  3. Tusk: EU budget agreed before 2019 elections 'unrealistic'
  4. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  5. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  6. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  7. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  8. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  9. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  10. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  12. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP

Latest News

  1. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  2. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  3. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  4. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  5. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  6. We are not (yet) one people
  7. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  8. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  3. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  5. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  6. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  7. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  10. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  12. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative