Having, effectively, unilaterally ripped up the EU agreement on how to handle refugees, Germany is now desperately trying to re-impose the rules. At the start of this month, Angela Merkel’s government declared that any Syrian who could reach the country could claim asylum in Germany. This was contrary to the Dublin Convention of 1990 which set out that refugees should seek asylum in the first EU member state that they arrive in.
Predictably, Germany’s actions led to a huge surge in the number of refugees trying to reach the country. The volume of people coming is now so great that Berlin has had to put in place controls on the Austrian border. It is also saying that it won’t accept refugees who have been fingerprinted or admitted in another EU state. In other words, it wants the Dublin Convention to apply once more.
This U-turn reveals how ill thought through Merkel’s policy on refugees was. But the problem is Merkel can’t unsay what she said. Her words and actions in the past few weeks will lead to more people putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers. The tragic consequence of this is that more lives will be lost.
Statesmanship involves the ability to think through the consequences of your actions. Merkel has spectacularly failed that test in her handling of the refugee crisis. She has made a dire situation even worse.