Günther Oettinger

Asylum ‘Magnet’ Becomes a Wedge

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European Commissioner Günther Oettinger has become the latest German conservative to ask Chancellor Angela Merkel to reverse her open-door policy on Syrian refugees.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    E.U. Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s call for Germany to change its open-door refugee policy is the latest appeal to Angela Merkel to reverse course.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The state premier of the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt has also called for Ms. Merkel to cap on the number of refugees Germany will accept.
    • Ms. Merkel’s Bavarian political allies, the Christian Social Union, want Ms. Merkel to halt the flow of refugees into the country.
    • Germany’s left-leaning Social Democrats and opposition Greens are opposed to limiting the number of refugees.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Günther Oettinger, a member of Germany’s conservative party and a European Commissioner, has called on lawmakers to rewrite the country’s liberal asylum laws to limit the number of people who have the right to stay in Germany.

“The German right of asylum acts like a magnet for refugees,” said Mr. Oettinger, the commissioner in charge of the 28-nation bloc’s digital agenda and a member of Ms. Merkel’s own Christian Democrat party, in an interview with Handelsblatt.

Mr. Oettinger, a former political rival to Ms. Merkel, joined a growing list of German conservatives pressuring their chancellor to reverse course and limit the number of refugees streaming into Germany. The government officially expects up to 1 million refugees to enter the country this year, although statistics are not up to date and some expect the total to be much higher, perhaps 1.5 million.

Ms. Merkel has so far resisted calls to limit the refugee flow, although her coalition shows increasing signs of strain.

While the German chancellor has refused to set numerical caps on the number of refugees, Ms. Merkel has endorsed a move to create allotments each year that limit how many refugees can be admitted from each country. But such as proposal would have to win approval in the Bundestag.

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