Germany’s Bavaria threatens to close door on refugees

The southern German state of Bavaria on Friday threatened to take unilateral measures to halt the flow of refugees to its towns.

Calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to limit refugee numbers, Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer challenged the open-door policy of Merkel’s government and said Bavaria would file a legal complaint if 

Berlin does not stop the influx.

“I have the support of my Cabinet for possible emergency measures and for considerations of filing a complaint,” Seehofer told a news conference in Munich.

He said federal government policy was undermining the ability of Germany’s states to operate independently and was a violation of the constitution.

Since January, Germany has taken in around 577,000 refugees and authorities expect a record 800,000 asylum applications this year — nearly three times last year’s total.

In September, 169,000 refugees arrived in Bavaria, mostly through Austria, after Merkel adopted an open-door policy for asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq.

Speaking after the Bavarian Cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the state could consider emergency measures such as returning refugees to Austria if Berlin does not act.

“We have clear expectations from the federal government,” he said. “If the requirements of the EU’s Schengen and Dublin agreements cannot be promptly implemented again then the Federal Republic of Germany should send refugees back from the border. This is possible according to the EU treaties and German law.”

According to the Dublin agreement, asylum seekers should apply for a refugee status in the first EU country they enter. It has increased the burden on “frontline” states Greece and Italy, which are the two main entry points to the EU. The Schengen agreement allows border-free travel through Europe.

Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union government has criticized Merkel’s policy, introduced last month, of registering refugees in Germany rather than expelling them.

EU’s largest economy Germany accepts more refugees than any other EU member.

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