The chairman of the youth wing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own party has publicly declared the group’s opposition to Germany’s current open doors immigration policy, arguing that a ceiling on immigration figures should be set. He rejected Merkel’s claims that it is impossible to limit migration, saying he had “no doubts” that the police are able to secure Germany’s borders.
Last night Chancellor Merkel addressed her fellow parliamentarians in the Bundestag, describing calls to close Germany’s borders as “an illusion” in the internet age. Describing the refugee crisis as “a historic test of Europe”, she insisted that border closures were neither an option for Germany, or for wider Europe as a whole.
Mrs. Merkel is seeking approval from the German Parliament for the Asylum Procedures Acceleration Act, a bill which aims to reduce economic immigration by allowing economic migrants to be deported more quickly, but would speed up the time taken to approve residency for people fleeing wars and persecution.
But her statement has been rejected by Paul Ziemiak, chair of the Youth Union, which serves as the youth wing for ruling sister parties the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), led by Angela Merkel.
According to news agency n-tv, Mr Ziemiak said it “must be possible for Germany to stop people who want to come,” adding “I have no doubt that the Federal Police is able to secure our borders.”
Mr. Ziemiak insisted that the Youth Union stand behind their leader in the majority of matters, disagreed with her stance on the refugee crisis. “We will have no choice but to set an upper limit”, Ziemiak said. “We need a plan on how to limit immigration for 2016/17. I do not know anyone who says this can continue in the long term, or if the numbers rise.”
He believes that Germany can accommodate a quarter of a million newcomers per year, but has promised to form a round table discussion between local authorities, aid organisations and the police to gain a clearer picture. “If in the end a higher number than 250,000 comes out, that’s fine but we need to create a basis for our discussions on how many people we should be welcoming,” he said. This year, the Federal Government expects between 800,000 and one million refugees to arrive.
Highlighting a letter which has been circulating among CDU members for signatures which expresses concern over the party’s policy on refugees, Mr. Ziemiak said he sympathised with members. In particular, concern was expressed over Mrs. Merkel’s insistence that Germany “can do it” – that is, can open her doors to all who come without considering the consequences.
However, he welcomed proposals by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to reduce welfare payments to migrants, calling them “100 percent right.”
The Youth Union boasts some 115,000 members, which compared to, for instance, the Conservative Party’s youth wing (15,000 members), is rather large and influential.