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27/09/2016

Schäuble: refugees like ‘avalanche’ triggered by ‘careless skier’

Justice & Home Affairs

Schäuble: refugees like ‘avalanche’ triggered by ‘careless skier’

Germany’s finance minister has warned that the influx of refugees could have a dramatic and unpredictable effect on the country. EurActiv Germany reports.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, has compared the challenge of dealing with the refugee crisis to an avalanche. “Avalanches can easily be triggered if a careless skier disturbs even just a small bit of snow,” he said at a Centre for European Policy (CEP) event.

“Whether we are at a stage where the avalanche has reached the valley below or is still on the upper slopes, I don’t know,” he added. He emphasised that Germany cannot cope with the situation alone and that it needs the support of the European community.

>>Read: Asselborn: ‘only months’ to save Schengen

According to Schäuble, the migration is “a rendezvous between our society and globalisation”. Now, Germany is suddenly facing a crisis, the pressure of which it will only be able to bear if Europe acts together. “Otherwise, it’s going to be pretty bad for all of us,” he warned. Germany cannot solve the problem by itself, even by reintroducing controls at internal borders.

Not-so warm welcome?

Volker Kauder, parliamentary group leader of the CDU and CSU, denied that refugee policy has diverged away from the welcoming culture it has followed so far. “Angela Merkel has long had a clear direction for responding to the crisis, that does no long-term damage to Germany,” he told a German newspaper. “I don’t see a change of course happening.”

The Greens’ leader Cem Özdemir criticised Merkel: “The constant unilateral actions of Thomas de Maizière shows that the chancellor can no longer exercise her power. Angela Merkel has lost control of both the government and her own party,” he told the Berliner Tagesspiegel.

As it became known on Tuesday (10 November), de Maizière took the decision to reinstate the Dublin system for Syrian refugees, a set of rules which Germany had suspended back in August. Many in Germany’s ruling coalition were surprised that the interior minister took such a decision without consulting with his colleagues.

>>Read: Germany suspends Dublin agreement for Syrian refugees

The coalition has now admitted, though, that many refugees do not register in other countries and, therefore, cannot be deported, as per the stipulations of the Dublin system. Additionally, most countries do not take back immigrants anyway.

Member states make life difficult for refugees

On Wednesday (11 November), Austria welcomed Germany’s decision to cancel what Vienna perceived to be preferential treatment for Syrians. Johanna Mikl-Leitner, de Maizière’s Austrian counterpart, welcomed what she labelled a “return to sense”. She emphasised that it is absolutely necessary that the Dublin system be preserved.

>>Read: Austria shelves border fence

In other EU countries, both physical and administrative barriers are being erected. In Slovenia, the police, in conjunction with the military, have started installing a barbed-wire fence on the border with Croatia, in order to limit the number of people crossing into the country, on the so-called Western Balkans route.

>>Read: Western Balkans route still preference of most refugees

The Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced that the country’s immigration law would be tightened, while Hungary has already declared its view that the Dublin system is dead and the regulation of migrant-movement between EU states is out of control. Additionally, Sweden announced on Wednesday evening (11 November) that it would be reintroducing border controls because of the large influx of people.