Is another big refugee crisis looming?

German interior minister says EU should brace for biggest influx so far this decade

Refugees in Italy
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Europe is facing a refugee crisis even greater than that of four years ago, Germany has warned.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says that despite the events of 2015, when more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe illegally by land and sea, the EU remains unprepared for a fresh influx, The Times reports.

Speaking during an offical visit to Greece, he told German newspaper Bild: “We have to help our European partners even more on patrolling the EU’s external borders. We have left them alone for too long.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

“If we don’t we will once again see a refugee wave like in 2015, maybe even greater than four years ago.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues free–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Seehofer is seeking support for an EU quota system for rescued asylum seekers and has committed Germany to taking in a quarter of those who arrive in member states via the sea route between North Africa and Italy. However, he has not agreed to accept any refugees entering the bloc via Spain or Greece, reports The Telegraph.

The politician said he would push for increased EU funds to be assigned to Turkey, while offering more technical support for Greece’s coast guard. A 2016 agreement that saw €6bn (£5.35bn) granted to Ankara was key in turning the tide on the surge of migration back then.

Last week, France’s President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkish leaders of exploiting the refugee crisis as “a means of pressure” over Turkish foreign policy in Syria and as a lever to extract more money.

In response, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called Macron a “crowing cockerel” and said the French leader had “exceeded his boundaries by defaming Turkey”.

Signalling that Germany was ready to give Ankara more money, Seehofer told German newspaper Die Welt: “Turkey is doing a great deal in welcoming refugees. It is also in our interests but it is clear that we cannot manage the future with the resources of the past.”

The German interior minister, a member of Bavaria’s conservative CSU party, was one of the chief critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow 890,000 refugees into Germany during the 2015 crisis. But he claims to have the full backing of Merkel for his bid to prevent another migrant crisis from happening now.

The question of how Germany should tackle the issue has divided Germany’s ruling coalition, which comprises Merkel’s conservative CDU, its CSU sister party and the center-left SPD.

Ralph Brinkhaus, CDU/CSU leader in the German parliament, argues that Seehofer’s plan would increase smuggling over the borders.

“This is the interior minister’s initiative, it does not come from the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag,” Brinkhaus said. “We will have to take a very close look at his plans.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.