Germany made an important and not altogether unexpected step related to the migration crisis last week. Although Angela Merkel first announced that Germany would welcome refugees with open arms, thus in practice suspending the EU rules for asylum in case of Syrians, she quickly made a parallel step back and imposed border controls along Germany´s border with Austria. Although some form of border controls is permissible under the Schengen rules, some experts see this as a first sign of its unraveling. Others regard it as a message to Eastern Europeans, until now unwilling to take in more refugees, a certain form of “either-or choice” – either refugee quotas, or end of Schengen.
The step was largely expected at a certain time. Massive migration inflow of undocumented persons cannot be sustained for a long time and border regions of Germany started to voice concerns – mainly the conservative Bavaria. With thousands of refugees walking in to Germany at a daily basis, mainly from Hungary, some sort of action was imminent. The step, however, triggered a domino effect. Austria announced that its police would also control border flows, followed by a form of border controls by Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
26th February 2018
9th March 2018