A European Conundrum

Handelsblatt US Roadshow. Gabor Steingart, CEO of the Handelsblatt Publishing Group is in the US to introduce the english language Handelsblatt Global Edition. Friedrich Neumann Stiftung breakfast roundtable. Hosted by Claus Gramckow. Kevin O'Brien (2nd left)). Gabor Steingart (talking) Claus. Franziska Scheven and Lea Steinacker behind.
Handelsblatt publisher Gabor Steingart (talking) discussed Europe's security conundrum during a breakfast round table at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Handelsblatt Global Edition offers exclusive insights helping executives and policymakers to understand Europe’s largest economy and make better decisions about business and politics there.

  • Facts


    • Handelsblatt is Germany’s leading business newspaper, covering business, finance and politics, and offering exclusive interviews with CEOs and senior politicians.
    • Handelsblatt Global Edition brings this exclusive content in English along with features from other leading newspapers and magazines in Germany, including Die Zeit.
    • Handelsblatt Global Edition’s editor in chief and publisher are on a 10-day roadshow in the United States to stimulate discussion of trans-Atlantic issues.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

How is Germany dealing with the refugee crisis? And how is the country handling the increased threat of terrorism in Europe?

Immigration and security are issues of concern for many Europeans, and were at the heart of Monday’s roundtable discussion at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s Transatlantic Dialogue Program in Washington, D.C.

“Currently what Germany is doing is checkbook diplomacy – a diplomacy of writing checks,” Handelsblatt editor and publisher Gabor Steingart said about the country’s efforts in solving the refugee crisis during the debate under the headline “Europe: The Overburdened Continent and Germany on the Crossroads.”

Mr. Steingart was critical of the approach of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her supporters to win over Turkey as an ally to curb the influx of  refugees entering the European Union.

“First, they wrote checks to the Greek government, now to Turkey,” he told an audience of around 25 government and business representatives, journalists and academics. “This is how they want to solve the problem.”

Under the agreement reached between E.U. and Turkish leaders in Friday, all migrants and refugees reaching the Greek islands are to be deported back to Turkey after being registered, and for every Syrian returned, the European Union will resettle one from a Turkish refugee camp.

In return for its cooperation, Turkey has won E.U. support to double refugee aid to €6 billion ($6.8 billion), allow visa-free travel for its citizens in Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone and accelerate its long-stalled bid to join the European Union.

Kevin O’Brien, editor in chief of Handelsblatt Global Edition, put Europe’s refugee crisis into perspective: The almost 1.5 million refugees who have already reached Europe would be the equivalent to 5 million people entering the United States within only a few months, he said. Europe, he added, needs to build a solid perimeter around its outer borders to control the intake of asylum seekers while maintaining free movement of goods and people within the region.

Mr. Steingart considers Germany’s current position on the refugee crisis as naïve. “Or as Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel’s predecessor, put it, ‘big heart, no plan’,” he said.

Walter Stadtler of the National Defense University questioned whether the flow of information between refugees via social media and other networks was encouraging people to come to Europe and intensifying current migration movements.

Handelsblatt US Roadshow. Gabor Steingart, CEO of the Handelsblatt Publishing Group is in the US to introduce the english language Handelsblatt Global Edition. Friedrich Neumann Stiftung breakfast roundtable. Hosted by Claus Gramckow. The HGE magazine at the round table breakfast.
The antagonism of an open-door refugee policy and increased terrorist threats were on the agenda of the round table discussion. Source: Dermot Tatlow


He also asked how Germany was monitoring information related to potential terrorism attacks.

“To address the rise of extremism and respond appropriately to security threats in the digital age, the German government and other European nations are in desperate need of technological expertise and intelligence cooperation,” said Lea Steinacker of the German weekly Wirtschaftswoche at the meeting.

Since the Paris attacks on November 13, government and security officials in France and around Europe have been scrutinizing how the Islamic State was able to organize the terrorist attacks under the radar of Western intelligence.

Mr. Steingart stressed the need for more powerful European institutions to address these issue. “At the moment, it is only the European Central Bank that has an impact, but we need other institutions in Europe to gain strength, too,” he said.

He also pointed out that the European Union is a two-speed region: While all member states are required to make decisions together, only a few actually take action on issues, including Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The Naumann roundtable was the latest of several stops during Handelsblatt Global Edition’s 10-day U.S. roadshow, meeting with think-tanks, businesses and opinion leaders in Washington and New York.

We hope you enjoyed this free article.

Subscribe today and get full access to market-moving news in Europe's leading economy.