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Germany introduces border controls, a way for Berlin to press EU partners to accept share of migrants?

Germany introduces temporary border controls to gain control over the influx of refugees, European and US widely media report, and train service to and from Austria has been stopped until Monday morning. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, Süddeutsche Zeitungreports, stated that these measures have become necessary due to security issues. He stressed that Germany will continue to abide by European regulations for refugee protection and demanded that other EU member states also abide by the Dublin treaty. Asylum seekers have to accept that they cannot choose their country of destination, German Minister Thomas de Maizière is further quoted by Trouw.

As member states prepare to meet on Monday to discuss the migrant crisis, Germany’s decision to reintroduce temporary border controls aims at increasing pressure on governments, in addition to controlling migration, Trouw notes. The measure, announced the day before EU Interior Ministers were to meet to consider a package of measures, including national quotas, appears to be a way for Berlin to press its European partners to accept their share of the migrants, the INYT adds in a comment echoed by German media.

While border controls in Germany will not reduce the numbers of refugees, they have a “symbolic character” for the EU member states unwilling to admit refugees, Stefan Kornelius notes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. This step means that Germany is not able to solve the refugee crisis by itself and that the EU member states must live up to their duties, Rolf Kleine writes in Bild Zeitung, noting that Angela Merkel is once again “acting like a model-European” only to be left alone by the other member states.

One of Angela Merkel’s most important allies in the crisis, Nikolas Busse comments in FAZ, is European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who recently offered a solution for a distribution quota, but not for the containment of the refugee influx. The European Commission, the INYT reports, actually said Germany was within its rights to impose border controls. ”The German decision underlines the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis”, the EC said in a statement.

The special meeting of EU Interior Ministers today, Trouw reports, will put the union to a test, considering the unwillingness of some countries to participate in the refugee allocation quotas, and Libération’s Marc Semo believes that European ministers will have a hard time reaching a comprehensive agreement on quotas, mostly because of the “deep divisions” the crisis has reawakened. Berlin, Paris and Rome intend to implement a quota system to distribute refugees across Europe, since France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK are currently hosting 75% of the asylum seekers, La Croix reports, but several countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are fighting against this measure, thus rejecting calls for a greater European solidarity.

In an interview with Le Figaro, Luxembourgish Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn states that there is still “a little hope” that the ministers will agree on the distribution of the 160,000 refugees in the EU over two years. In another interview with Luxemburger Wort’s Dani Schumacher, Jean Asselborn explains that “we are faced with a double challenge. We must control the current refugee flows in a disciplined way, and we need to develop a long-term strategy so that we do not have to start from nothing at the next wave of refugees.”


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