Criticism for border shake-up proposal

German and French plans to reclaim control of their borders have been condemned by German politicians as "right-wing populist rhetoric". The move comes ahead of Sunday's first round vote in the French Presidential elections, in which President Nicolas Sarkozy has been trailing in the polls.

Criticism for border shake-up proposal
Photo: DPA

“The French President is attempting to improve his hopeless situation with right-wing populist rhetoric,” Green party chairwoman Claudia Roth told the Hamburger Abendblatt on Saturday.

Critics say the proposal to radically reform the Schengen agreement – which abolished frontier controls in 1995 – would be a retrograde step for Europe. Under the agreement immigrants to Europe are allowed to move freely between states once inside the Schengen area without having to show identification.

“A Europe without border installations and tollgates was the dream of all those who began the European unification process,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Focus magazine on Saturday. “We can’t jeopardize that now and especially not for small, tactical electoral gains.”

In a joint letter sent this week to the European Union’s Danish chair, French and German Interior Ministers Claude Guéant and Hans-Peter Friedrich said that where governments within the area fail to meet obligations to manage external frontiers partners should have “the possibility, as a last resort, to reintroduce internal frontiers for a period not greater than 30 days.”

Head of the German police union GdP told the Hamburger Abendblatt on Saturday he doubts this would be workable, as after the Schengen agreement came into force a large number of Germany’s 10,000 border officials were deployed elsewhere.

But the proposal probably won’t get that far as it seems unlikely that it will find support on a European level.

President of the EU Parliament Martin Schluz has rejected the idea, which would see member states clawing back some control over their own borders.

“The community law of the union can’t be annulled by a bilateral announcement of two Interior Ministers,” he told the Passauer Neuen Presse on Saturday.

Schultz told the paper the “strange” proposal would not find majority support in the EU Council or in the EU Parliament.


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‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”


Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

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