German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been under fire for her open border policy allowing millions of immigrants to flood Germany. Now, the government is on the brink as Merkel battles her coalition partners on immigration and asylum seekers.
The coalition between Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) has fractured over the latter’s new proposed policy that would turn away more asylum seekers at the country’s borders.
The policy flies in the face of the most powerful woman in the world and de factor leader of the European Union. In 2015, her ‘open door’ policy to migrants saw approximately 1 million refugees flood into the country. Although migrant arrivals have dropped steeply in the past two years, Germany still registered around 11,000 new asylum-seekers each month.
Her decision is believed to be a major contributing factor to the surge in support for the far-Right and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD), which became the third-largest party in Germany after the 2017 federal election when it won 94 seats in the Bundestag, Fox News reported.
Horst Seehofer, the CSU interior minister, whose party is facing regional elections in October, wants Germany to turn back refugees who have already registered in other European countries. He also wants to block migrants whose asylum applications in Germany have already been rejected from returning.
Merkel fears such a move could increase the burden on countries include Italy, Greece and Spain, believing it could potentially fracture the European Union even further.
Fox News reports:
Angela Merkel has warned that the migrant crisis could be “make or break” for the European Union, hours ahead of a crucial summit on migration.
The German chancellor, already under fire, spoke in front of a rowdy parliament in an attempt to win over conservative critics within her own coalition government who have threatened to bring her down.
“Europe faces many challenges, but that of migration could become the make-or-break one for the EU,” she told the Bundestag.
“Either we manage it, so others in Africa believe that we are guided by values and believe in multilateralism, not unilateralism, or nobody will believe any longer in the system of values that has made us strong. That’s why it’s so important.”
Merkel implemented an open-door policy in 2015, leading to an influx of more than a million migrants. She insists that the move at the time was an exceptional gesture to help nearby Austria and Hungary.
“We said in an exceptional situation we will help and now, as then, I think it was the right decision,” she said.
But she is now under pressure at home, with her own interior minister Horst Seehofer threatening to turn back asylum- seekers who have registered in another country at the Bavarian border.
Seehofer’s party faces regional elections in Bavaria later this year and is under pressure from the far-right Alternative for Germany party which has seen a surge in support since 2015.
In a nod to Seehofer, Merkel said: “A person who seeks protection in Europe can’t choose the country within the European Union where he or she wants to submit an asylum request,” adding that “we can’t leave those countries where all arrivals take place to fend for themselves.”
She said she would seek a “coalition of the willing” if no deal was struck with the EU’s 28 member states. The EU’s members disagree on a common asylum policy and a fair distribution of refugees. The row has split the bloc for three years and shows no signs of being resolved.
Under the Dublin regulations, refugees who enter the EU have to stay in the first country they registered in, but they have not been properly enforced, meaning people have made multiple asylum requests in several countries.
Merkel pointed out that the number of asylum seekers coming to Europe has fallen dramatically and it is now time for the EU to return to its migration policy that was in place before the crisis.
The EU summit comes just as Malta allowed a charity ship carrying more than 230 migrants on board to dock after a five-day standoff with Italy. Malta only agreed to let the Lifeline dock after striking a deal with several European countries, including Italy, Portugal and France, who will receive some of the migrants.