For the first time in five years, Germany has begun contemplating the idea of sending migrants back to Greece as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national popularity plummets from public outcry against her open door policy – a political shift that may have lasting reverberations throughout the European Union.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believes that the European Union must adopt a common policy on refugees arguing that Germany no longer has the resources to handle the ever-increasing burden caused by migrants flooding into the country. De Maiziere notes that pursuant to the Dublin regulations migrants should be processed and kept in the first member state entered in arguing for Greece to carry the burden.
"We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece," de Maiziere told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations."
The number of refugees who would be issued back into the custody and care of Greece, a country whose social structure teeters perilously close to collapse after years of economic depression, remains uncertain but with Chancellor Merkel’s Party being trounced on Sunday by the far-right, anti-immigrant AfD (Alternative for Germany) the German government may need to unload hundreds of thousands in order to maintain control in Berlin.
In 2015 alone, more than one million refugees moved to Germany under Merkel’s "Open Door" policy although the situation has not been as severe in 2016 due to a number of surrounding European countries moving to seal their borders to stem the tide of refugee travel.
“We did not reduce benefits for anyone in Germany as a result of the aid for refugees. In fact, we actually saw social improvements in some area,” said Merkel in a Saturday interview defending her pro-immigration policy stance. However, many Germans point to the fact that funds to resettle refugees are being drawn from health and pension accounts meaning Berlin is simply delaying the economic impact of the Open Door policy in an attempt to mask the reality.
Some European countries have taken a much harder line on immigration in the last year, most notably Hungary where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for a total ban on migration and draconian measures to prevent "Islamization" of the country.
"Hungary does not need a single migrant and every single migrant poses a public security risk," said Orban. The neighboring bloc of countries, known as the "Visegrad group" including Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have similarly austere positions towards the intake of migrants.
Following a surge in well-publicized terror strikes throughout Europe along with the growing economic and cultural destabilization from largest mass migration of people in world history, Germany has largely found itself as the only country willing to take in Syrian refugees – and even that may not last very long.