Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wants to introduce border controls with Poland and the Czech Republic
Photo: KAI PFAFFENBACH / REUTERS
The debate about migration policy in Germany continues to intensify. CSU leader Markus Söder had advanced with the idea of an upper limit of 200,000 refugees and migrants and received a lot of criticism from the government, because, according to Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), such a project would not be compatible with the rest of Europe. The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz nevertheless backed the proposal.
At the beginning of October, new state parliaments will be elected in Hesse and Bavaria, and the European elections are due in 2024 – so the issue of migration will also be used for the election campaign.
CDU criticises lack of support for states and municipalities
CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann has sharply criticized the federal government for wanting to provide states and municipalities with significantly less funds for taking in refugees and migrants in 2024 than this year. "With the reduction of municipal funds for refugees, it leaves mayors and district administrators of all parties completely out in the cold – as well as municipal helpers who have worn themselves out in recent months to somehow cope with the influx," he told the Reuters news agency. The federal-state talks on the financing of the costs for the reception and care of refugees and migrants were broken off on Monday.
"On the one hand, the federal government is not limiting the influx of illegal migration, on the other hand, it is cutting urgently needed funds for accommodation," Linnemann criticized. This "knocks the bottom out of the barrel". The federal government is losing its "touch with reality".
The Prime Minister of Hesse and CDU top candidate Boris Rhein also criticized the fact that no solution has yet been found between the federal and state governments to better support the municipalities in taking in refugees. "The municipalities are urgently waiting for the money. You are at the breaking point. Help the municipalities now with money, but above all with the limitation of migration," said Rhein to Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser.
Interior Minister pleads for border controls with the Czech Republic and Poland
Faeser, who is also the SPD's top candidate for the Hesse elections on October 8, is planning stationary border controls at the borders with the Czech Republic and Poland to combat smuggling crime. This will be in addition to the veil search, said Faeser on Monday evening at a discussion organized by Hit Radio FFH and the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" in Frankfurt am Main.
Since autumn 2015, there have been temporary stationary border controls in Bavaria on the border with Austria. For other border sections, Faeser has so far not considered such controls, which have to be applied for in Brussels with a lead time of about a month, to be useful.
The police union (GdP) reacted negatively to Faeser's plans. "As the GdP, we speak out against stationary, fixed border controls because we do not consider them effective in police work," said the vice-chairman of the GdP district of the Federal Police, Erika Krause-Schöne, the "Rheinische Post".
Solution only at European level
The Hessian Green Party's top candidate, Tarek Al-Wazir, sees a solution only at the European level. "We have disorder in migration at the moment and we have to try to bring order back into it. And in my view, this can only be done at European level. Above all, this has something to do with the external borders." It must be ensured that people who have no protective rights in the foreseeable future do not have to enter the country at all or then have to leave the European Union again. People with intellectual property rights, on the other hand, would have to be better distributed in Europe.
SPD appeals to the moral compass
In the debate about an upper limit on asylum seekers, the moral compass is also important, according to SPD domestic politician Hakan Demir. "We need moral steadfastness," said the rapporteur of the SPD parliamentary group for international refugee law of the dpa news agency. He emphasized: "Those who flee war and violence have a right to asylum." Anyone who thinks they are "getting on the bandwagon of isolation" in a time of uncertainty is on the wrong side of history.
Demir accused the CDU/CSU of trying to "create a mood with populist diversionary manoeuvres". Proclaimed caps or a shift from money to in-kind benefits for asylum seekers will not reduce the number of people fleeing violence or poverty. Those who want less unregulated refugee migration should advocate for more agreements with countries that enable people to come to Germany with work visas. The so-called Western Balkans regulation, which works according to this principle, is a success story, said the SPD deputy. As a result, the number of asylum seekers from these countries has decreased.
Criticism and stagnation in Brussels
The European partners are putting increasing pressure on the German government because of its rejection of proposals for the planned reform of the EU asylum system. Berlin's position is largely responsible for the fact that necessary negotiations with the European Parliament are currently blocked, several diplomats and EU officials told dpa ahead of a meeting of interior ministers next Thursday. If there is to be a chance to pass the asylum reform before the European elections, the German government must move and agree to the proposal for the so-called crisis regulation.
The dispute is specifically about the fact that the traffic light coalition did not want to support a proposal by the Spanish EU Council Presidency for the crisis regulation in July and that the EU states were therefore unable to position themselves for negotiations with the European Parliament. In Brussels, Berlin justified this in particular by saying that the regulation would give EU states the opportunity to lower the standards of protection for these people in an unacceptable manner in the event of a particularly large influx of migrants.
In crisis situations, for example, it should be possible to extend the period during which people can be detained under conditions similar to those of detention. In addition, the circle of people who are eligible for the planned strict border procedures could be enlarged.
Out of anger over the deadlock, the European Parliament announced last week that it would block other parts of the negotiations on the planned asylum reform until further notice. The delays are particularly interesting because of the approaching European elections in June 2024. Projects that have not been negotiated with the governments of the member states by then could then be called into question again and delayed for a long time.
In the case of the planned reform of the asylum system, this would be a particularly major setback. The project has been in the works for years. It is also intended to help limit illegal migration and is therefore likely to play a role in upcoming elections in the Member States and the European elections. Right-wing parties such as the AfD in particular have long accused the EU of failing in the fight against illegal migration.