Merkel puts refugees at top of agenda

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday in Berlin that Germany would increase its efforts in dealing with the refugee crisis. She also called for more cooperation within the EU. At last Merkel is assuming the lead in Europe, some commentators write jubilantly. Others see her stance on refugees as naive.

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Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Germany finally assuming a leading role

Europe can count itself lucky that someone is taking the lead in the refugee crisis, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino concludes: "In wars and emergencies we see who really has the ability to lead. A scarce commodity in Europe - but with one exception: Angela Merkel. Her statement on the refugee issue is destined to permanently alter the balance of power on the continent. … People don't like the term 'German dominance'. It is taboo in Europe. Germany's Finance Minister Schäuble rejects it. Perhaps because it is synonymous with more responsibility and therefore more costs. But in the most recent speeches by German President Gauck and Foreign Minister Steinmeier a change of attitude is evident that accepts the country's role as a global player. If Germany wants more responsibility and a leading role not just in the economy but also on strategic issues, this shouldn't worry its European partners. Let the ghosts of the past rest in peace."

Die Welt (DE) /

Hopefully more than just fine words

Merkel is late in taking up refugee policy but her speech on the issue was remarkable, comments the conservative daily Die Welt, at the same time calling for swift improvements: "So now Merkel wants to tackle the problem. With a legislative package that removes the most absurd hurdles preventing faster assistance and with more money. On this point the chancellor will have to quickly get more concrete if she doesn't want the impact of her speech to evaporate. In Europe too, the most powerful politician on the continent must now use her power to achieve a fairer distribution of the refugees, certainly, but also to put an end to the subsidies and protectionist customs that rob African countries of the chance to develop. With almost American-style pragmatism and optimism, Merkel has delivered the promise of a new refugee policy. And indeed the chances of a national effort being successful are not bad at all. With a well-attuned grand coalition that is finally finding its raison d'être. … As well as a booming economy and one of the best administrations in the world."

Le Figaro (FR) /

Merkel naive about refugees

Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement that Germany has the capacity to take in another several hundred thousand refugees is naive, the conservative daily Le Figaro writes: "While it may be true that Germany has the capacity to hire hundreds of thousands of adult migrants in industry or the service sector, such capacities most certainly do not exist in Italy or Spain or France, all of which are unable to provide their own young generations with enough work. ... Merkel seems to see people from a purely economic perspective. In reality, however, they are first and foremost cultural beings. Why were there riots in the suburbs of Sweden, a country where unemployment is practically non-existent? It seems that Europe has still not managed to fully integrate the Muslims who came with the wave of economic immigration in the 1960s. Strangely, that's something Angela Merkel refuses to acknowledge."