EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS: Berlin considers tightening border controls


The government of Germany, which has recently welcomed in hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing poverty and the wars in Iraq and Syria, has now voiced the need for European Union member states to strengthen their borders to cope with the ‘waves of refugees’, the Spanish newspaper Expansión has reported.

The measure to enact limits was tabled by the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in an interview published in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung today (16 January 2016). In the interview, Schäuble said it was a priority for member states to collectively seek a solution to the refugee crisis and also spoke in favour of allocating resources and EU budgets, if necessary, to secure the security of external borders. Several EU member states, most notably Greece, Italy and those in the Balkans, have received at their ports and roads several thousand displaced people and are struggling to manage the inflow.

(c) C. Michelides/Wikimedia Commons

“The solution of these problems must not fail for lack of resources,” said Schäuble , who suggested that the money needed for the border reinforcement plan could be gathered via taxation within the union, for example through a levy on petrol, if the European Union and member state budgets are unable to provide enough funds themselves.

“Then we would have the means to address the refugee crisis in Europe. Why not make an agreement at European level if it is so urgent? That is a task” he added.

Schäuble also expected some opposition to his plans and said that even if there are countries not willing to help foot the bill, Germany would not fail to do so itself and would form a ‘coalition of the willing’ of EU member nations prepared to cough up funds for his border reinforcement plan. The finance minister also emphasised the need to protect Europe’s external borders in order to protect the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone, which allows people easy access to travel between different states within the EU.

“Not everyone who wants to can come to Europe. (The plan) must be achieved based on control and cooperation with neighbouring states. But the time to do it is finite,” he said. Schäuble also insisted that the refugee crisis can only be solved at the ‘European level’ otherwise it will not be only be Germany that is affected but those EU states at the forefront of the current humanitarian crisis, such as Austria, Hungary and the Balkans members.

Finance ministers from the EU member states have recently signed on a €3 billion package to be made available to Turkey to provide assistance and facilities to refugees bound for Europe to accommodate them in its territory, hwowver many EU observers say that this will only have partial impact on resolving the refugee crisis.

Schäuble stated that he was convinced that Germany has not reached the limit of capacities for resources to aid refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, but that he felt there was a ‘malfunction’ in the German federal system. The finance minister added “We will have to devote considerably more resources, but will not achieve control problems in the “countries of origin” of refugees,…”

He went on to applaud the hospitality of his home country and other EU nations in welcoming and settling refugees, but said that there was a limit to how much the EU could take in, in terms of population and finance, and that the crisis could harm the efficiency of member states.

Schäuble’s comments in the Süddeutsche Zeitung interview are at odds with the official policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has made considerable efforts to make her country a welcoming place for refugees. Recent events since the refugee crisis began, such as a wave of sexual assaults in Cologne over the New Year period and a spate of attacks on asylum centres by neo-Nazi and far-right extremists have made many German policymakers feel uncomfortable with that official policy, while other EU states, including Great Britain have put in place strict quotas on how many refugees they are prepared to accept.

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Eddy yquemas, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“Berlín subraya la necesidad de reforzar las fronteras de la UE para hacer frente a la oleada de refugiados” – EFE, Expansión – Economía – Política/Unidad Editorial Información Económica S.L. (16 January 2016)
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“File:Flüchtinge 9999-Michelides.jpg” – Christian Michelides, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2015)



2 thoughts on “EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS: Berlin considers tightening border controls

  1. gigoid January 17, 2016 / 1:39 am

    One long “Yes, but….” from government; German, English, US, Turkey, all same/same. Always a reason to say no, because saying yes does not server their self-interest….


    Liked by 1 person

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