Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Germany announces indefinite border checks

  • German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere is piling on the pressure to maintain border checks (Photo: The Joneses)

Domestic pressure is mounting for Germany to extend border control checks amid further rifts within Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition.

Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told German radio MDR info on Wednesday (20 January) the border control checks, first introduced last September, would not be lifted for the foreseeable future.

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

"I don't foresee a moment when we can end it," he said.

De Maiziere's announcement follows heightened tensions over Merkel's open asylum policy as her fiercest domestic critic, Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer, demanded a sharp reduction of refugee numbers within the "next few weeks".

Seehofer, who heads the Christian-Social Union (CSU), earlier this week demanded results before March. The CSU is the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian-Democrats (CDU).

Controls 'not the solution'

Germany is hosting more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers. Some 40% are fleeing conflict in Syria.

An average of 3,000 are arriving every day, down from a peak of about 10,000 last year.

De Maiziere's announcement to keep border checks for an indefinite period marks a departure from foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Steinmeier, a centre-left Social-Democrat, said closing borders would not solve the issue.

"I guarantee you that 'a solution to the crisis' will not be achieved through a closure of the border," he said.

Steinmeier's response came after Germany's transport minister criticised Merkel's policy.

Meanwhile Merkel, who faces the biggest challenge in her political career, has reportedly denounced moves by neighbouring Austria to impose a cap on the number of asylum claims.

Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann said the number of claims would be limited to 1.5% of the Austrian population over the next four years.

The Austrian border clamp down is already having knock-on effects elsewhere with Macedonia sealing its border with Greece.

Authorities in Serbia and Croatia say they would only allow people through who were seeking asylum in Austria and Germany.

Slovenia, which borders Austria to the south, is likely to send troops to the border with Croatia.

Schengen six-month rule

Germany first imposed a ten-day control at its Austrian border at the start of September after having announced an open door policy for Syrian nationals.

It then extended it to 20 days and then again for another 20 days.

It now wants to maintain the controls, but EU rules allow for border checks for only six months.

The limit can be extended to two years if EU institutional procedures and evaluations determine the gaps on the external frontiers somehow pose a major threat to the passport-free Schengen zone.

The EU Commission, for its part, said in December that it was probing Greek border holes and would submit a report to the Schengen Evaluation committee.

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.

EU internal border checks to stay in place

The EU commission recommended extending internal checks for five EU states for another six months. The final decision will be made by the Council, representing member states.

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.

Germany tightens asylum rules

The governing coalition parties agreed to restrict family reunification and ease deportation of non-refugees.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

EU dismisses UN call to stop migrant returns to Libya

As the death toll of the Tajoura detention centre airstrike reached 53, including six children, the UN called for a halt to returning people to Libya. The EU - which is helping fund the Libyan coastguard - said no.

News in Brief

  1. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  2. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  3. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  4. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  5. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  6. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  7. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  8. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us