Monday

22nd May 2017

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says

  • (Photo: bundesregierung.de)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she and other EU leaders are to blame for waiting too long to react to the migration crisis.

"There are political issues that one can see coming but don't really register with people at that certain moment - and in Germany we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution," she told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on Wednesday (31 August).

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.

She said that Germany, at first, had rejected the idea of burden sharing and of giving extra powers to the EU’s border agency, Frontex, to protect the external boundary of the Schengen free travel zone.

"Back then, we also rejected a proportional distribution of the refugees," she said.

"We said we would deal with the problem at our airports since we don't have any other external EU boundaries. But that doesn't work.

"We didn't embrace the problem in an appropriate way."

Merkel warned the German public that people were likely to keep seeking refuge in Europe for many years to come and that the EU would need to increase development aid to Africa as well as financial support to Turkey to alleviate the situation.

She also warned German politicians not to make incendiary statements linking refugees to terrorism.

"It's simply incorrect to say that terrorism came only with the refugees," she said.

"It was already here in myriad forms and with the various potential attackers that we have been watching,” she added, referring to the fact that most of the recent attacks in Europe had been perpetrated by EU nationals.

The chancellor’s mea culpa was issued on the one-year anniversary of her statement “wir schaffen das", or "we can do this”, which came to symbolise her open-door policy to migrants.

Germany last year took in almost 1 million people, prompting a political backlash against the government and rising support for anti-EU and anti-immigrant groups such as the AfD party and the Pegida movement.

Germany's top migration official Frank-Juergen Weise said last Sunday he expected the country to take in another 250,000 to 300,000 people this year.

Other EU leaders have also blamed Merkel’s policies for acting as a pull factor for refugees.

But her comments on how the problem had been initially mishandled could be aimed at central and eastern European leaders, who still reject migrant quotas, ahead of a summit on EU reform due in Bratislava later this month.

“It doesn’t work for some countries to say: ‘We don’t want to have Muslims at all, even if it’s necessary for humanitarian reasons’,” she told German broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

The German chancellor sticks by her welcoming policy towards migrants, while a poll suggests more than 50 percent of Germans do not want her to stand for a fourth term in office.

Merkel warns German parties against populism

The German chancellor, in her first speech since the bruising defeat of her party to anti-immigrant AfD over the weekend, defended her migrant-welcome policy.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  2. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  4. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  5. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  6. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  7. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  8. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus
  10. ACCABanishing Bias? Audit, Objectivity and the Value of Professional Scepticism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Oslo Climate Declaration Focuses on Rising Temperatures in the Arctic
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceAbdominal Obesity: A Causal Risk Factor for Cardiometabolic Diseases