After hours of discussion, Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party have made a breakthrough in the fight over the refugee ceiling issue, agreeing to cap Germany’s intake of asylum seekers at 200,000 a year.
“We want to achieve a total number of people taken in for humanitarian reasons (refugees and asylum seekers, those entitled to subsidiary protection, family members, relocation and resettlement minus deportations and voluntary departures of future refugees) that does not exceed 200,000 people a year,” the agreement stated, according to Reuters.
This would relate to the humanitarian inflow, in other words asylum seekers and refugees; migrant workers would not be affected by the scheme. In exceptional circumstances, that number could be increased or lowered by the Bundestag, Der Spiegel reported, citing a draft paper.
Since 2015, when the German Chancellor announced her decision to let in hundreds of thousands of refugees, around 1 million asylum-seekers have arrived in Germany, putting a strain on its social welfare system and sparking a rise in anti-migrant sentiment, as well as opening deep rifts within German society.
Germany’s geographic location together with the Dublin agreement (regulating asylum procedures in the EU) has left most refugees stranded in the EU’s coastal states, such as Greece and Italy. Despite this, Germany has been receiving thousands of asylum-seekers annually. As the migrant influx from the Middle East and North Africa gained momentum, the German chancellor announced a “humanitarian move,” opening Germany’s borders to migrants in August 2015.
The mass influx of refugees had a major impact on Germany’s national security situation. In August 2016, the head of the Bavarian department of the Domestic Intelligence Agency (BfV), Manfred Hauser warned that “hit squads” linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) might have infiltrated Germany posing as refugees.
The deadliest incident occurred on December 19 2016, when a rejected asylum-seeker plowed a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and dozens injured. The assailant, a Tunisian man named Anis Amri who had pledged allegiance to IS, had previously been on the radar of the police. Amri managed to flee the scene and reach Italy, where he was gunned down by police.