In Sweden, the once-shunned anti-immigrant right is heading for a breakthrough in September’s elections. In Germany, Angela Merkel’s job is in jeopardy if she can’t manage to placate her coalition partners in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, who are being challenged by the far right. They’re threatening to close the borders if they don’t get new assurances on immigration – a move that would be a devastating blow to the European Union’s open-borders policy.
Anti-immigration sentiment in Germany is also fuelled by violent crime. Recently, a young Iraqi man was apprehended for the violent rape and murder of a 14-year-old German girl – a graphic reminder to many people that the government can’t control who is living within its borders. “The government should beg for forgiveness from Susanna’s parents, ” said Bild, a popular daily newspaper.
Ms. Merkel is pushing for a common approach and united solutions to Europe’s migration problems. But that’s looking like a lost cause. The idea of “burden-sharing” – which would require every country to take its fair share of asylum claimants – has been a flop, because countries such as Hungary and Bulgaria believe their fair share is zero. Asylum claimants themselves are only interested in going to northern countries with good welfare benefits. Other ideas involve massively beefing up policing of Europe’s external borders – if only they can figure out who will pay and what will become of the migrants who are intercepted. The Italians are now proposing “reception centres” – perhaps located in Europe, or perhaps North Africa, where people can be housed (or detained, depending on your point of view) while their claims are processed.