What will the Seehofer-Merkel plan mean for Europe?

After Germany's CDU and CSU proposed setting up "transit centres", Vienna has announced that it will introduce tighter controls on its borders with Italy and Slovenia should the government in Berlin agree to the proposal. Commentators see a paradigmatic change of course in Germany's migration policy and believe that the repercussions will be felt throughout Europe.

Open/close all quotes
Delo (SI) /

Eastern Europe becoming a model for all Europe

Orbán's method of dealing with refugees has now become standard practice in all of Europe, Delo observes:

“It seems the ideas that outraged the 'liberal' West when it looked down on the 'illiberal democratic' pioneers in the East has become the new European reality. One clear example is Germany, which generously opened its doors for the foreigners whom the violent export of democracy freed from their former undemocratic regimes. Now Germany's refugee policy looks very much like what was introduced by the 'regime' of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who until recently was considered a pariah. The idea that the Germans could introduce concentration camps for illegal, non-Christian migrants according to the Hungarian model has saved the German government from collapse.”

To Vima Online (GR) /

Greece will bear a double burden

Middle East expert Evangelos Venetis criticises in To Vima Online the Greek government's decision to take back refugees that have managed to make the journey from Greece to Germany:

“This approach is in line with the Dublin Regulation which, however, is outdated and needs to be changed. ... The main disadvantage of this approach is that the return of migrants will put our country in a desperate situation and at the same time expose it to two migration flows, one from the east and one from the west. Instead of improving the infrastructure and preparing for the difficult days ahead, Athens is making careless concessions and striking deals in exchange for dubious incentives.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Completely divorced from reality

The agreement between the CDU and the CSU has nothing to do with reality, Der Standard criticises:

“The rejection of asylum seekers is taking place 'on the basis of a legal fiction entailing non-entry'. So the refugee enters the country, is detained in a camp for checks, but the German government acts as if he weren't there at all. Any government that works out such a shabby compromise as the basis for its future cooperation has already thrown in the towel. ... As far as Austria is concerned, the CDU/CSU government in Berlin is also working on the basis of a fiction, namely the assumption of an agreement that doesn't even exist. That seems to be the trend in Europe right now: at the EU summit last week some of the heads of state and government agreed on reception centres in African states - another fiction. So far not a single state has declared that it is willing to set up such a centre.”

Večer (SI) /

The first domino falls

The plans of the CDU and CSU threaten to trigger a domino effect on the Balkan route, Večer fears:

“Austria has sensed this and made clear that it refuses to become a holding centre for migrants. All of a sudden Slovenia may need its barbed wire fence on the Austrian rather than the Croatian border. The new border protection unit Puma, presented in Vienna last week with much pomp and ceremony, will take care of the deportations. The exercise no longer seems so over the top, and all the gloomy predictions seem to be coming true now that Germany is no longer playing along. And where is the European solution to the migration crisis? Not even Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker knows that.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Europe's founding fathers betrayed

These latest developments remind La Repubblica of the darkest chapter in Europe's past:

“We already suspected on that grotesque day after the EU summit last week that the Union that is now becoming a fortress had become nothing but a fiction. When the 27 pitched as a migration agreement an empty box into which the heads of government packed whatever they wanted to appease public opinion upon their return. Now it's even clearer. Europe no longer exists. And Salvini's 'new sovereign Italy', the architect of this dramatic process of collapse, threatens to become the first victim. Even in Germany, Chancellor Merkel has sacrificed the European ideal of Adenauer and the founding fathers to her interior minister. ... The 'closed transit centres' are creepily reminiscent of the concentration camps.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Bavaria making EU vulnerable to blackmail

CSU leader Seehofer has seriously harmed the EU, Kauppalehti complains:

“Neither Brussels nor Berlin will admit it - that's clear. But the fact remains: a party that governs a German state has brought both the EU and Chancellor Merkel to their knees. ... Even if the asylum and migration policy solution now agreed on isn't fully implemented, the drama of the last few days will profoundly change the EU. ... In future individual states, whether large or small, will be able to defy the rest even more recklessly if they choose to and it suits their short-sighted interests. If the political leadership lets a German federate state blackmail all the other member states and the entire EU bureaucracy to boot, Hungary or Poland can do the same.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Seehofer and Kurz flirting with Europe's demise

The populists have won yet again, De Morgen comments:

“Horst Seehofer is the umpteenth European politician who has crossed the line over to populism, as if he had sipped an addictive Trumpian elixir that promises blooming voter landscapes. ... Conservative politicians have brought European politics to a risky turning point with slogans borrowed from the far right. The focus is increasingly shifting from Merkel to Austrian Chancellor Kurz, the 'prompter' of the new Europe. ... Border controls threaten to destroy the entire European Union. ... Nevertheless, no one is willing to denounce such ideas as nonsense for fear of incurring the people's wrath.”