Never before has Wunderfrau Angela Merkel been so isolated. In her own CDU party, where she serves as chairwoman. With her ally CSU from Bavaria. In the grand coalition with the Social Democrats, and also within in the European Union.
By the end of this year, one million refugees will have arrived in Germany, up from only 250.000 originally expected early summer. Germany’s populations is only about 81 million. Experts expect another 1,8 million refugees to come to Germany next year. In 2006 only 30.000 people asked for asylum, in 2012 that number rose to a still manageable 70.000.
Some 40 percent of the refugees come from The Balkans and can legally be sent back to their home countries, which have recently been declared as “safe” by Berlin. But the process of sending people back is a bureaucratic nightmare and proves very difficult to handle. At the same time, more will come from Afghanistan soon. After a while refugees may bring other family members to Germany too.
The fundamental right of asylum of Art. 16 a in the German constitutional law sets no limit. It states that “politically persecuted persons enjoy protection under the Asylum Act”. There is no majority in German politics to set new limits. On 4 December 1948, after the horrors of Nazi terror, Dr. Carlo Schmidt stated during the 18th sitting of the main committee of the Parliamentary Council: “The granting of asylum protection is always a question of generosity, and if one wants to be generous, one has to risk being mistaken about one person”.
Germany is risking to become a victim of its good image in the world and reputation as a liberal welfare-country. The Germans and ‘Mutti’ (Merkel’s nickname, meaning “mom” in German) welcomed the many refugees in the summer with a lot of good will. Germany’s summer dream is over now in fall- too many too soon. Not enough housing in the communities any more.
While many thousand Germans help refugees with many grass-root projects, only a minority of right wing protesters showed aggression toward these foreigners. With more and more to come and look for cheap homes and jobs, the mood might change. CDU politicians are afraid that governing conservatives could lose votes to the populistic AfD, and now it looks like they are, as much as 7 points in a recent poll. The CDU dropped by two percent. Many ordinary citizen are concerned, feel unsafe.
Several EU countries, not only Hungary, but also Poland and the United Kingdom, and even main partner France, do not want to invite and integrate large foreign populations. Especially if they are Muslim. Since weeks they are blocking Mrs Merkel’s plan for a fair distribution of refugees within the European Union. After the EU agreed to distribute 160,000 refugees, less than 1000 were actually invited to move.
Germany was very welcome to spend billions in the EU, but now that it demands burden-sharing, the heads of EU state are reluctant to accept Berlin’s proposals.
At the same time, these countries don’t want to spend the billions of Euros needed to gurantee the social welfare of the newcomers.
They are eqully stingy when it comes to supporting Syria, Turkey and Jordan who are hosting a combined four million refugees in large camps. The EU has no real concept either.
A convincing concept to safeguard the outer EU-borders is still in the making. The EU countries agreed to stop refugees at the Union’s outer borders in the Schengen Agreement from 1985 and the Schengen Convention from 1990 which proposed the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with external border controls for travellers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but with no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometers.
Now most EU countries just send the many refugees over the borders to Germany.
Sealing the border, in similar fashion to how the U.S. has closed its border to Mexico, seems almost impossible with new walls and border guards, a nightmare after the Iron Curtain.
Politics have lost control- in Germany and the EU. And so has Angela Merkel.
It shows a fundamental problem in politics: short sighted actions and many nice words, but no strategic long-term planing.
October 25th, the EU Heads of States agreed to an action plan, based on proposals by the Commission. The Commission’s agenda on migration outlines an immediate response to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean and sets out longer term steps to manage migration in all its aspects:
1. Reducing the incentives for irregular migration
Investigating, disrupting and prosecuting smugglers’ networks and helping align EU countries’ return practices – partly by strengthening FRONTEX. The Commission will also aim to build stronger partnerships with key countries outside the EU.
2. Saving lives and securing external borders
Setting a revised proposal on smart borders, financing initiatives in North Africa to help the region become stronger in search and rescue activities, and seeing if a European border guard system should be established.
3. A strong common asylum policy
Ensuring a full and coherent implementation of the common European asylum system. This would be achieved by promoting identification and fingerprinting, seeing how a single asylum decision process would ensure equal treatment of asylum seekers in Europe, and evaluating the Dublin system by mid-2016.
4. A new policy on legal migration
Keep Europe an attractive destination for migrants in a time of demographic decline, through actions such as reviewing the Blue Card scheme, prioritizing integration policies, and making migration policy work better for countries of origin, for example by easing remittances.
Is this enough? And will it really be implemented soon?
What to do?
A bundle of many actions seems needed now by the EU and its member states , including fast track of:
1. A €10 billion mutual EU, US and Gulf States plan to support four million refugees from Syria now in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
2. An end of the war in Syria and Iraq with an active policy of power and reconciliation, including Russia.
3. A € 10 billion EU program to develop North Africa. An action plan for Libya.
4. Secure the outer border, mainly in Greece, as decided in the Schengen Convention.
5. People who are not political victims must be sent home.
6. Continue the very positive welcome-culture and integrate the political refugees, who have arrived in Europa. Respect for them must prevail.
All this needs creativity, visions, actions and leadership – on the 28 national and the European levels.
Mutti Merkel must lead now, or she will fail. On all level.