As EU's Interior Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos declined an extension beyond February and pushed for things to go back to Schengen, Germany prepares to go ahead on its own to maintain the border controls in Bavaria for a longer period of time. Border controls between the Schengen countries are only acceptable as a time-limited exception to the rule of open borders. Better protected EU external borders should make the controls in the interior of Europe superfluous.
The federal government and the state of Bavaria are looking for an extension of the border controls, at least until after the Bundestag elections in September. If Europe does not want to give the green light, the federal government and the state are ready to continue the controls on the border to Austria on their own, it was reported.
Stephan Mayer, a member of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) and the spokesman for Home Affairs of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group (the coalition that led Chancellor Angela Merkel to power), told the Welt am Sonntag Sunday newspaper that I am convinced that border controls must be extended beyond February 2017. The CSU politician, who comes from the border area to Austria, added: If the EU Commission does not support the extension, for which I would have no understanding, the federal government must independently continue the border controls on the Bavarian-Austrian border.
German and EU delegates in Brussels draw a completely different conclusion from the current migration situation in the face of a further 17,500 new asylum seekers per month in the Federal Republic alone. The German side considers it necessary to carry out the controls, particularly in the coming election campaign, while the Union wants to avoid any signal that could be understood as a return to the controversial welcome culture of the year 2015.
In April, German Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière (CDU), announced a lifting of the controls, saying that at that time the controls were not necessary if the figures on the Balkan route were to remain so low. Since then, the end of the controls is no longer an issue in the Union - even if the Federal Government now only speaks of the refugee crisis in the past. And since March, it has emphasized again and again that the EU-Turkey agreement, which has been significantly launched by it, has drastically reduced the number of migrants on the Balkan route. CSU chairman, Horst Seehofer, promptly denounced de Maizière a self-governing government style due to lack of agreements.
Over a twelve-month period, the current figure of 17,500 refugees means a total of 210,000, which is now above the annual upper limit of 200,000 required by the CSU. Bavaria, in particular, is pushing for an extension of the controls. The verifications are an important symbol against the thesis of the loss of control - even if they are consistently carried out on four of more than 60 border crossings to Austria.
The EU had extended the border controls last November. Since then, five countries have been able to extend the reviews for a maximum period of three months by mid-February, despite the concerns of several Member States.
CSU interior expert Mayer points to Article 23 of the Schengen border code. According to this, a state can first of all control its frontier without clearance from Brussels, in case of a serious threat to public order and the internal Safety, explains Mayer. This presupposition is, in my opinion, definitely fulfilled in view of the persistently high threat posed by Islamic terrorism, the G-20 summit in Hamburg in early July, and the Bundestag elections in September.
This threatens Germany if the EU is actually opposed to a renewal of controls because of concrete indications from the government that there are terrorists among the migrants. In fact, Europol has detected several suspects of terrorism during border controls. The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) also warned that the terrorist Islamic state (IS) is training its fighters at the end of October, so as not to be caught up in border controls or asylum interrogations.
The Federal coalition of the willing with Austria, Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries, for example, might, therefore, dare to intervene with Brussels and increase the pressure on Europe to change its course of action in the coming weeks.
Among other national security tasks undertaken by German authorities is a closer look at whether North Korea's flag carrier, Air Koryo, is involved in illicit activities in line with the recent U.S. decision to impose additional sanctions. Contacts have taken place on this issue between US and German intelligence officials, it was disclosed by a reliable source on condiion of anonimity. Should any wrongdoing on the part of Air Koryo be detected, German is to handle it under its own judiciary system.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Dec. 2 imposed additional sanctions on North Korea, blacklisting seven individuals and 16 entities, including the country's flag carrier, Air Koryo, for their links to weapons proliferation and foreign currency earnings for the regime.