Sunday

21st Jan 2018

German minister criticises Merkel's 'friendly face' on migrants

Germany must be ready to "prepare a plan B" against the mass arrival of migrants and be ready to close its borders, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has said, in a direct challenge to chancellor Angela Merkel's policy.

"We need a quick change in the situation," Dobrindt said in an interview published in the Muenchner Merkur daily on Tuesday (19 January).

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 must prepare ourselves for not being able to avoid border closures,” he said. "We must quickly agree on that with the other countries on the refugee route."

"It is not enough to show the world a friendly face," he added, referring to an expression used by Merkel last September to justify her policy of welcoming all Syrian refugees to Germany.

Dobrindt is from the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian democrat CDU, which has been critical of the chancellor's policy from the start.

Still 'the right one'?

His interview is the most open criticism of Merkel yet to come from her own coalition government.

It comes at a time when her authority on the refugee issue is being challenged by events in Cologne and other cities on New Year's Eve, when dozens of men, mainly of north African or Middle Eastern origin, including migrants, sexually assaulted women on the streets.

On Sunday, Bild, Germany’s most popular daily, asked on its first page whether Merkel is "still the right one".

Under the headline, it listed Germany's - and Merkel's - current problems: "Lack of respect, lack of authority, power struggles … terrorism, criminality, overstrained authorities.”

It concluded: "Merkel's refugee policy [is] at the point of failure."

Coming from a newspaper known for its populist tendencies, but which has, overall, supported Merkel's "Wilkommenspolitik”, the story could signal a change of fortune for the chancellor.

In the interview with the Muenchner Merkur, Dobrindt also pointed out the lack of support for her ideas in Europe

"Who speaks of a coalition of the willing to manage this crisis must also name the reality," he said, referring to a group of countries which Merkel has tried to rally to organise relocation and resettlement of refugees in Europe.

"On this issue there is a pact of the unwilling against us," Dobrindt said.

Pressure builds

So far, just 322 refugees out of a 160,000 quotas have been relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, putting a cloud over Germany's main ideas on how to face the crisis at EU level.

Merkel has so far resisted calls, especially from the CSU, to limit the number of migrants coming to Germany. But she said she would try to "noticeably reduce the number of refugees", after more than 1 million people sought asylum in 2015.

The pressure could increase further.

Austria's interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, has said that from the end of this week, she will let through only migrants who intend to seek asylum in Germany.


On Wednesday, the Austrian federal government will also hold a summit with regions and local authorities to define means to "clearly reduce" the number of refugees.

'Visionary decisions'

While Merkel is being increasingly criticised, the director of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, said he had "the greatest admiration for Merkel and her visionary and courageous decisions".

"We hoped that all 28 EU member states would imitate her and take responsibility. They did not but that doesn't weaken the admiration and the praise for Merkel's right decisions," he told the Die Welt newspaper.

Germany proposes EU petrol tax to pay for refugees

Germany's finance minister, Wolgang Schaeuble, has proposed an EU-wide petrol tax to cover the costs of the refugee crisis, while saying Europe is moving to slowly on tackling the issue.

Merkel: euro and open borders 'directly linked'

German leader says single market would “suffer massively” if borders were closed, but admitted that Europe is "vulnerable" and lacks the order to receive all refugees.

German MPs sceptical of Merkel's 'European solution'

Conservative critics of the German chancellor's refugee policy feel increasingly insecure after she fails to win over member states for a European solution. Still, few believe that her stepping down would lead to a solution.

Austria imposes asylum cap to 'shake up' Europe

Austria to place cap on number of asylum claims it will process. German president, same day, said it may be “morally and politically” necessary to limit numbers.

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