Thursday

25th May 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

Opinion

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

Italian refugee centre allegedly run by mafia

One of Italy's most powerful mafia syndicates, the 'Ndrangheta, allegedly stole over €32 million from a refugee centre run by a Catholic charity in southern Italy.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  2. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  3. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  4. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  5. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  6. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  7. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  8. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Latest News

  1. EU to Trump: Defend Western values, not your interests
  2. Nato to join Trump's anti-IS coalition
  3. Trump expected to make Nato pledge
  4. Car-sharing's promise of clean cities
  5. Openness over Brexit is 'political play', says EU ombudsman
  6. Le Pen's EU group in fresh spending scandal
  7. New EU right to data portability to cause headaches
  8. Cyber threats are inevitable, paralyzing impact is not