Merkel takes a noble but mistaken approach to migrants

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday refused to reverse her policies on refugees, despite the recent terror attacks.

Mrs Merkel is the most powerful politician in Europe, and perhaps the world. What she says and does has major ramifications for the European Union.

Her approach to Britain will help shape the relationship between a post Brexit UK and the EU.

Last year when she essentially announced an open door policy towards the wave of migrants from countries such as Syria Mrs Merkel was reflecting the best of western generosity and optimism and civilisation.

She was also giving voice to the pragmatic, as well as moral, reasons for mass migration – Europe with its ageing demographic will need to have workers who take on jobs that native populations will not accept.

But despite the laudable nature of her comments last year, the effects were disastrous. The flow of desperate people who were prepared to risk their lives and those of their families to cross the Aegean and Mediterranean became a flood.

Millions of migrants, some of them refugees but many of them economic migrants, have come to a continent where they will find life much more difficult than they hoped for, at best living in housing estates alongside disadvantaged people who are understandably anxious about how this influx will impact on their own ability to get work.

In addition, no-one knows how many of the arrivals are terrorists. It is clearly a minuscule minority of the overall arrivals, but even 0.1% of two million people is 2,000 jihadists. Yet critics who warned on cultural grounds that mass immigration can cause social problems were dismissed as racist.

It is regrettable that Mrs Merkel is now forcefully saying Germany will “stick to our principles” in opening its doors. Those principles were noble indeed, and demonstrated what a great nation Germany is, but they have in the end made a grave problem even worse.