Wednesday

19th Sep 2018

Merkel: euro and open borders 'directly linked'

  • Europe's refugee crisis: 'we do not yet have the order, the control, that we would like to have' (Photo: CDU)

Open borders and the eurozone are “directly linked”, German chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday (11 January) in response to the largest refugee crisis Europe has faced since World War II.

“Nobody should pretend that you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders reasonably easily,” Merkel said according to German media.

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

She added that if countries were to close their borders again, the single market would “suffer massively”.

Europe's open borders, as laid down in the 1985 Schengen agreement, pre-date the introduction of the single European currency in 2002.

All EU members are part of the single market. And while not all EU countries have the euro, all eurozone members in mainland Europe are part of Schengen.

But the lack of border controls has left Europe overwhelmed by an influx of refugees and migrants.

'Vulnerable'

“Now all of a sudden we are facing the challenge that refugees are coming to Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see, because we do not yet have the order, the control, that we would like to have,” noted the German leader, adding that the EU must strengthen its external borders to guarantee a passport-free internal territory.

Otherwise Europe would “reach an alternative which will certainly cost us a lot of energy”.

Meanwhile, Germany has increased the number of migrants it sends back to Austria. Many transit through Austria to reach Germany on their route from the Balkans, Greece and the Middle East.

Austria

“The daily number of migrants being turned back has risen from 60 in December to 200 since the start of the year,” said an Austrian police spokesperson according to AFP.

Those sent back were refugees from Afghanistan, Algeria, and Morocco, who wanted to pass through Germany and apply for asylum in Scandinavian countries, the agency reported Monday.

“German politicians seem to have decided to act with more firmness. The difficult thing [for us] is to explain if a migrants asks: Why can't I travel further now if my friend could still do it last week?”, added a second police spokeswoman from the state of Upper Austria.

While Austrian police said they received no explanation, and a German police spokesperson told Reuters “the valid legal rules (…) haven't changed”, there is one important variable that has changed since the new year started.

Merkel has come under political pressure to act after groups of men, many with a migrant background, assaulted women on New Year's Eve in Cologne and other cities.

Cologne attacks put Merkel under pressure

German leader cancels trip to Davos after a weekend which saw far-right protesters clash with police and amid hundreds of criminal complaints over New Year's Eve sex assaults.

Analysis

How Cologne assaults stunned authorities and media

The revelation and coverage of mass sexual assaults on women on New Year's Eve demonstrate the challenges in Germany's debates on integration, political correctness, and sexism.

Would the euro really be in danger without Schengen?

EU Commission president Juncker and chancellor Merkel say there is a direct link between the euro and Schengen, but the single market would not necessarily falter with the reintroduction of border controls.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. Real Brexit progress needed by October, Barnier says
  2. Poland to face EU top court on rule of law
  3. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  4. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers
  5. Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal
  6. New book: Why war is coming
  7. EU parliament will not budge on office expenses
  8. Why Orban's project to reshape EU politics will be unsuccessful

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us