Over the weekend, our own Adam Garfinkle wrote a must-read piece on Europe’s migrant crisis, in which he predicted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming embrace of refugees was sure to kick off a reactionary response sooner or later, with one of the likely knock-on effects being the end of the Schengen Zone of passport-free travel. Here’s Adam recounting a set of meetings he had on the continent:
I predicted that within five years Poland will be forced to erect passport control at airports for incoming European flights. (In case you are not aware, dear reader, there are none now. We flew from Berlin to Warsaw by way of Munich, and when one lands there is simply no passport control at all—meaning that any non-EU national who can get into Germany and pay for a ticket to get to Poland can indeed fly to Poland without anyone so much as asking his name or how long he intends to stay.) They all said I was wrong, but just a few days ago look what the Danes did: They basically sealed the border to rail and road traffic from Germany. And they were right to do it.
Well, sooner it is. With unused warehouses, sports arenas, and even Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport being converted into temporary camps for the sea of humanity flooding into Germany, Berlin yesterday announced it was instituting passport controls along its border with Austria after institutions in Bavaria began to buckle under the load of processing thousands of new arrivals.
The border closure is temporary and, as such, is technically legal under Schengen, but Germany’s Interior Minister refused to rule out other border closings in the near future. The move may force other countries to follow suit: Austria’s Foreign Minister said, “We have only one option and that is to act in concert with Germany.”
Merkel’s open door policy toward the migrants has earned plaudits from around the world but appears to have sown discord at home. The leader of the Bavarian CSU, which is in coalition with Merkel Christian Democratic Union, attacked the Chancellor in an interview on Friday, saying her decision was “a mistake that will keep us busy for a long time.” Privately, officials close to Merkel apparently concede that they did not anticipate that the Chancellor’s remarks would have such resonance and would encourage more migrants to try to get to Germany.
This all sets the stage for contentious meetings of EU Ambassadors slated for later today. A draft four-page memorandum of what the meeting is supposed to achieve has already leaked. Gone is the insistence that any migrant relocation program among the EU’s member states be mandatory; in its place is language about Europe being “committed” to sharing the burden. Also notable is the first mention of the creation of massive new internment camps for “irregular migrants”, to be set up in Italy and Greece.
Fortress Europe, here we come.