German Chancellor Angela Merkel has re-emphasised the need to tackle the EU’s growing migrancy issue, stating on Sunday that the problem will need more attention and will pose a bigger challenge for the EU than the failing Greek economy.
Many in Germany are opposed to the country’s modern pro-immigration policy.
In the spate of recent arson attacks on refugee shelters throughout Germany, Merkel has condemned the attacks, stating that they were ‘unworthy of our country’.
In the first half of this year alone, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has recorded over two hundred attacks on refugee shelters, many of which have been vandalised beyond repair and are no longer habitable.
In the usually peaceful German towns of Vorra and Tröglitz, shelters have been torched, bricked and stoned in an attempt to prevent a surge of migrants taking refuge in the area. The fact that towns like Vorra have a relatively small population of about a thousand and will have to accommodate its fair share of migrants has been met with a lot of hostility and violent attacks by radicals that are opposed to influx of migrants.
In Dresden, protests have been taking place, organised by local groups such as Freital Defends Itself, in opposition to building renovations that have taken place to house the asylum seekers. This has sparked fears amongst some that neo-Nazism could be finding its voice again in the country.
However. it is important to distinguish between hate crimes and far-right German political radicalism. Gauri van Gulik who monitors Amnesty International in Europe has said that “in Germany, the language has been so classic neo-Nazi, we immediately identify it with the types of crimes associated with the far-right.” However, this can be a dangerous assumption, as there are no laws against hate crimes in Germany.
Despite the attacks, there have also been a large number of locals helping the migrants, volunteering their time and effort and supplying those housed at shelters with food, clothing and money.
Germany’s current pro-immigration stance is perhaps an attempt to compensate for the country’s disastrous neo-Nazi past and rid itself of this stereotypical perception. This German tradition of accepting migrants looks set to continue, with the country housing more migrants and asylum seekers than any other EU state. Migrants flock to Germany due to the strong German economy and due to gaps in the labour market which many migrants will attempt to utilise.
However even though Germany might have the means and capabilities to deal with the situation, migration in the EU affects different countries in different ways and will most certainly have a long lasting effect on the EU as a whole.
In an interview given to ZDF public television, Merkel said that “the issue of asylum could be the next major EU project” and that it is likely to “preoccupy Europe much more than the issue of Greece and the stability of the Euro.”
She also stated that the EU needs to take “joint action” to get a better handle on the issue and in order to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control.