Handelsblatt Exclusive

CEOs to Merkel: Cap the Refugee Flood

Managers and refugees source imago dpa
Managers view the refugee crisis with concern.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Pressure is growing on Chancellor Angela Merkel to reverse her earlier position and cap the number of refugees streaming into Germany, according to a Handelsblatt survey of German business executives.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The latest Handelsblatt Business Monitor shows that 73 percent of managers believe Germany can’t cope with more than half a million refugees a year.
    • The poll of 669 managers showed that 79 percent want the government to make a greater effort to deport immigrants arriving from countries deemed safe.
    • German business leaders are warning that integrating refugees into the labor market will cost billions of euros — and many will need welfare benefits.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Just a few weeks ago, Germans were clapping and cheering as crowds of refugees arrived at train stations bewildered and relieved after their dangerous journeys from war zones in the Middle East.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was hailed as “Mama Merkel,” and many top managers were euphoric at the prospect of so many young workers for an aging country.

“In the best case,” said Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, the new arrivals could form the “foundation for the next German economic miracle.”

But given the inexorable rise in refugee numbers, talk of the “best case” is receding. And though Ms. Merkel is sticking to the slogan she ultimately will be judged by — “We’ll manage it” — her own party, and many business leaders, are wondering: “Will we really?”

There’s also mounting skepticism among managers over her refusal to limit the right to asylum in Germany’s constitution, the so-called Basic Law.

The latest Handelsblatt Business Monitor shows that 73 percent of managers surveyed believe that Germany can only cope with 500,000 refugees a year at most. Only 4 percent regard more than 1 million — the number expected to arrive this year — as sustainable over the medium term.

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