Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

  • Merkel is yet to announce if she will run for a fourth term, but more than half of voters say it's not a good idea. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German chancellor Angela Merkel stood by her open-door policy towards asylum seekers in an interview on Sunday (28 August) and urged EU members that have refused to take in people to accept refugees.

“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,’” Merkel told German broadcaster ARD.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

The German chancellor spent last week talking to European leaders, including those of the Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - who have been reluctant to take in refugees.

Merkel hinted she could accept changes to the quota system to distribute 160,000 refugees across EU countries, but emphasised that all member countries should take part in sharing the burden of the migration crisis.

Merkel faces regional elections this weekend and a general election next year, with a new poll indicating that half of Germans do not want her to seek a fourth term.

The poll, in Bild am Sonntag newspaper, suggested 50 percent opposed her running for another term and 42 percent supported her, which represents a drop in her support since last year.

Merkel has not yet said if she will run, with an announcement possible at her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party congress in December.

CDU politicians plan to gather on Thursday to talk about strategy. While support for the party has slid amid the migration crisis, it still leads coalition partner Social Democrats (SPD) in the polls.

SPD’s call for a cap

But even within the coalition there are now calls for limiting migration and criticism for Merkel’s welcoming policy.

The centre-left SPD leader and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on the weekend for the first time suggested a cap on migration.

“We always said that it's inconceivable for Germany to take in a million people every year,” Gabriel said in an interview on Saturday.

“There’s something called an upper limit to the country’s integration ability,” he added on Sunday.

Bavaria's Finance Minister Markus Soeder from Merkel’s sister party, Christian Social Union (CSU), suggested that a large number of refugees should be sent back to their countries of origin.

He told Der Spiegel magazine that it would not be possible to successfully integrate so many people from a completely different cultural background.

Merkel in her interview emphasised policies that would make it tougher for migrants to stay, and praised the EU’s Turkey deal aimed at stopping the flow of people.

In an effort to win back voters she also hinted at tax cuts.

She reached out to Germans of Turkish descent, saying: "I keep saying that I'm their chancellor too and I think it's important to profess that, and it's good if that is reciprocated by commitment to our country and not by bringing conflicts from Turkey to Germany."

Germany is home to roughly 3 million people of Turkish origin.

Merkel will hit the campaign trail on Monday in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where local elections take place this weekend with the right-wing, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) expected to make a strong showing.

Not a million

Meanwhile Germany’s head of migration said the country took fewer than the previously stated 1.1 million refugees in 2015.

The head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) told told Bild am Sonntag on Sunday that “it is certain that less than one million people came to Germany last year”.

Frank-Juergen Weise said some people had been registered twice, and others had moved on to other destinations.

Weise said he expected a maximum of 300,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year.

He also added that 70 percent of the migrants who had arrived were fit for employment but said that the majority of them would be dependent on basic social security.

Merkel wants EU to focus on jobs and security

Merkel is meeting 12 EU leaders in the next two days to forge alliances before the Bratislava summit in September on the EU's future, where different views are bound to clash.

Merkel faces backlash after killings

The German chancellor faces mounting criticism at home for her refugee policy after asylum seekers carried out several attacks over the last week.

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says

If EU states, including Germany, had acted earlier and in concert to share burdens and protect external boundaries, the crisis would have been less severe, says the German chancellor.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary