Merkel 'underestimated migrant integration challenge'

Andrew Cummings
August 30, 2016

That country expects about 300,000 new migrants this year on top of the 1 million it has already allowed in to Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday (21 April) that fewer asylum seekers were now reaching European shores, giving EU nations a chance to shore up plans to protect the continent's outer borders. While many Germans have welcomed the new arrivals, a growing number claim the country can not cope with integrating them and risks losing its identity.

Officials have spoken of more than a million arrivals in 2015, but Weise said the actual figure was likely lower once duplicate registrations and people who traveled on to other countries are excluded.

A recent poll by Emnid revealed that 50 percent of German nationals oppose Merkel's potential run for the fourth chancellor's term, while 42 percent of Germans support Merkel's appointment as the next chancellor.

"That's not right at all that some countries say: 'generally speaking, we don't want to have Muslims in our countries, '" Merkel told German public television channel ARD.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said it was "inconceivable" that Germany could again take in a million refugees and other immigrants in a single year.

Weise also noted that integrating refugees into Germany's job market would take time and come at a high financial cost.

At a separate news conference on Sunday, Gabriel said: "There is an upper limit to a country's integration ability".

He also criticized Merkel's "Wir schaffen das" ("We can do this") slogan, which she has used repeatedly in reference to managing the migrant crisis.

Merkel in her interview emphasised policies that would make it tougher for migrants to stay, and praised the EU's Turkey deal aimed at stopping the flow of people.

More than one million migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa arrived in Germany past year.

Gabriel leads the Social Democrats (SPD), a coalition partner in Merkel's government, and his comments come as campaigning kicks off for a federal election next year.

"In my opinion the negotiations with the U.S. have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it", the Minister told ZDF broadcaster, according to a written transcript of the interview.

BAMF chief Frank-Juergen Weise told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that Germany's healthy economy and improvements to refugee services meant that the country was well-placed to absorb new arrivals, particularly as their numbers have dropped off.

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