The defiant group of ten took matters into their own hands late last week. The countries held a refugee conference and did not invite the chancellor. The countries all restrict the number of refugees they will take. Merkel is furious but there is not a damn thing she can do about it. Curiously, Merkel Faces a Dilemma because Germany is already the beneficiary of Austria’s actions.
The decision by Austria and nine Balkan states to unilaterally choke off the flow of migrants across their borders has prompted fury in Berlin, which fears it could torpedo Chancellor Merkel’s drive for an EU-wide solution to the refugee crisis.
But the new border controls have ironically had one positive effect for Ms Merkel: the number of asylum-seekers crossing the border into Germany has plunged. On Wednesday there were only 140, compared with more than 2,000 a day at the start of last week. German TV showed empty reception centres in the Bavarian town of Passau, near the Austrian border, which has been a key entry point for the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals to Germany.
“Merkel faces a paradox,” the influential journalist Alan Posener wrote in Die Welt. “It’s possible that the naysayers will restrict the influx of refugees to such an extent that the chancellor’s future in Germany will be saved.”
It is not just the substance of Austria’s policy shift that has angered Berlin but the manner in which it is being carried out. The new border clampdown was agreed at a meeting in Vienna of countries along the so-called “West Balkan route” to which Germany was not even invited.
Germany had opposed Vienna’s move last week to enforce a daily cap on the number of refugees it will allow into the country. Berlin believes the decision — to accept only 80 asylum applications a day — is a direct violation of principles agreed by Austria’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, at recent EU summits.
But Vienna went further on Wednesday by agreeing policies with nine Balkan states to restrict the numbers crossing their borders. One key point was a commitment to accept only those migrants deemed to be in need of protection.
Berlin is worried that Austria’s unilateral moves are killing the chances of a European solution Ms Merkel has been painstakingly piecing together in recent months.
Merkel’s Hopeless Plan
Is Merkel really that naive to believe everyone will go along with her “painstakingly pieced together plan”? For starters, numerous nations won’t adopt her share the refugee relocation program. Next, bribing Turkey is downright foolish.
I applaud the action by Austria and the group of ten. The idea to only take refugees in need of protection is exactly what the policy should have been all along.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock