Germany brings in border controls
Germany temporarily reintroduced controls at its border with Austria on the weekend. Left in the lurch by its European partners Berlin had no other alternative, some commentators complain. Others believe the step was aimed at bringing the Eastern European EU states into line.
Germany forced to throw in the towel
Germany was forced to introduce border controls by Europe's failure to act, the liberal daily De Standaard believes: "Germany still wants to be a vanguard, but it won't play the role of Europe's dumb Dora. ... The fact that Europe so shamefully ignored Germany's initiative for a common stance on the refugee problem was destined to have grave consequences. A giant won't let itself be tortured by dwarves forever. Now there is precious little time to prevent a disaster. Germany was forced to throw in the towel, and that will lead to a shift of public opinion in the country. Anger will grow at the unwillingness of too many of its partners to act like Europeans. Europe is in for dark times."
Merkel was never so wrong
The closure of Germany's border with Austria reveals the failure not only of Angela Merkel's refugee policy but also of the entire EU, the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments: "For the chancellor this is the admission of a political misjudgement that is unprecedented in her ten years as chancellor. And for Europe it sends the message: Germany has understood that it can't revolutionise Europe's refugee policy on its own. ... The German policy has run aground on the glaring contradiction between the moral (and legal) duty to grant asylum to every war refugee and the sheer size of the problem. Germany overestimated its own capacities while underestimating Europe's inertia. ... One can condemn the immobility on the part of the states of Europe, but solidarity is a two-edged sword: it also holds for those who feel unable to cope or politically pressured. And this time they were clearly in the majority."
Austria on its own now
Germany's border controls will turn Austria from a transit country into a destination country so Vienna must react accordingly, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse demands: "Austria is more or less on its own now that Germany's generosity ends at our border. It must make its decision on its own. A decision between the head and the heart; between emotion and reason. It is undisputed that we should take in refugees. The question is how many we can take in. We cannot have uncontrolled mass immigration. And it's not just about how many we can accommodate in the current crisis situation. We must also think beyond now: How can we integrate all these people from a different culture and with a different religion, many of whom will stay here? If our liberal lifestyle is enough of an incentive, that's great. If not, we will have to define a kind of guiding culture."
Berlin ups the pressure on Eastern Europe
The German police failed to inform the Czech Republic that the country would introduce temporary border controls even though the refugees may now try to enter Germany via the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has stated. The conservative daily Lidové noviny accuses Germany of political machinations: "The border closure has caused an untenable situation in the countries that the refugees have entered from outside the Schengen Area. This increases the pressure for them to agree to a common European approach, including a quota system. Above all Hungary is under growing pressure to break the consensus among the Eastern Europeans. If the route via Vienna is blocked, the flood of refugees could be redirected to the Czech Republic. Perhaps the theory is that faced with ten thousand Syrian families on our border, we will beg for a quota according to which we are assigned just a few thousand. ... Hopefully this 'temporary' German measure won't last 23 years [like the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia after 1968]."