Analysis. With her reelection at stake, Chancellor Angela Merkel is enacting strict new policies against migrants and refugees. But the Schengen is also at stake.

Schengen in crisis, Merkel gets tough and closes the border with Austria

This difficult Christmas is a thing of the past, and so is Angela Merkel’s “welcome policy,” disintegrated after the massacre of Charlottenburg. This hardline policy shift will set the tone for her fourth run at the Federal Chancellery.

The border with Austria will be sealed after February, with peace agreements reached with Brussels. Refugees without papers rejected in secure countries are expected to increase greatly. The CDU has requested transit zones to process the 200,000 asylum seekers arriving annually. In anticipation, the army is working alongside police to prevent terrorism, “like in the days of the [Red Army Faction],” said the SPD, denouncing the measures.

In Berlin, investigations into Anis Amri, suspected author of the massacre at the market of Breitscheidplatz, have not made any significant progress. The German detective, returned from Italy, proceeded to compare the revolver used to shoot the Italian police officer with the one used to kill the Polish truck driver. The Federal Criminal Office analysts looked into Amri’s links with ISIS, in light of three arrests, including his cousin, in Tunis.

But the actions of the German security services, only now, highlight the resounding failure of the federal and local security system, unable to follow up on the previous reports from criminal police, Interpol, internal services and the Tunisian foreign terrorist project. The Bundestag, meanwhile, is enacting emergency laws in accord with its moderate policy, Christian and democratic.

“After the attack, the CDU and CSU are invoking stricter rules. But the solution is not martial law,” says SPD Vice President Ralf Stegner, asking the allies “to separate” the issue of migrants from the fight against terrorism. “In Germany we had the RAF and NSU [a Nazi terrorist cell active from 1996 to 2011, which killed nine immigrants and a policewoman]. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the refugees have nothing to do with the attack. The Union calls for tougher laws, the use of armed forces for internal tasks and all this nonsense.”

Yet the threats of CSU leader Horst Seehofer are not unfounded if Merkel, from here to the federal elections in September, was not going to set any limits for the arrival of migrants. “The maximum quota for refugees is to be welcomed in the protocol,” the governor of Bavaria told Merkel this week. Hardening the border with Austria costs Berlin its E.U. Schengen promise and the protest of the government in Vienna. “The controls on the southern border will continue for many more months,” officially confirmed Thomas de Maizière (CDU), Minister of the Interior.

After Merkel’s telephone summit with the Tunisian president, the expulsion of undocumented migrants from the Maghreb is more streamlined. It’s almost to the point of a plan to return all “repatriable” refugees to their home countries.

But it is still not enough. The CDU accused the SPD of opposing the “transit zones” (also legal) where refugees await identification. The states receive €863,000 as reimbursement for part of the expenses for meals and beds — the sum of the declared values of requisitioned migrants’ goods left in storage awaiting asylum decisions. From 2015 to 2016, goods from 12 states have been forfeited. At least 1,489 cases offset the cost of humanitarian assistance dispensed, according to calculations from Der Spiegel.

There’s also a boom of asylum seekers from Turkey: 5,166 fleeing the Erdogan purge. Over 700 have come in November alone, and 80 percent are Kurds.

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