Posted on March 26, 2024

Germany Needs Migration ‘Pause’, Says Senior Opposition MP

James Rothwell, The Telegraph, March 25, 2024

Germany should consider a temporary migration “pause”, a senior opposition MP has said as Berlin faces mounting pressure to reform its immigration policies.

Jens Spahn, a former health minister who launched a failed bid to lead the centre-Right CDU party, said the government’s targets for tackling migration were too weak.

In an interview with Bild, the German tabloid, Mr Spahn called for a “several year pause in regular migration” and said the new target should be “zero” on the issue of illegal migration.

“We have irregular migration in large numbers, above all of young men – 18 to 40-year-old men are the majority of those who come to us,” he said.

“There was once a goal of getting under 200,000 per year in the grand coalition. We succeeded in doing that too. Then, in 2000 and 2021, the numbers fell accordingly.

“But, you know, the goal of irregular migration must be zero. Also it’s irregular, illegal, not legal. And the goal of things that are not lawful is, in my view, zero.”

Germany has struggled with rising levels of what it calls irregular migration for years. Recent figures show the biggest surge in illegal migration levels since 2016, and Mr Spahn said the country had received 3.8 million asylum applications in the past decade.

Pausing migration levels for several years would give those already in the country time to learn German and integrate into society, he added.

Data released by German police in October showed that 21,000 people entered Germany via “unauthorised entries”, such as land border crossings, in the previous month. The government responded by imposing additional checks at land borders.

The significantly increased levels of migration have been a gift to the far-Right AfD party, which has been surging in the polls on the back of campaigns for tougher migration controls.

An ongoing survey of German opinion polls by Politico, a news website, puts AfD in second place nationally, with a projected vote share of 19 per cent.

The opposition CDU party, led by Friedrich Merz, who succeeded Angela Merkel, leads with 30 per cent of the vote. The SPD party, led by Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, is third on 15 per cent.

Also on Monday, tensions continued to simmer between the Scholz government and the CDU over the former’s refusal so far to provide Ukraine with powerful Taurus missiles.

Mr Merz accused Mr Scholz of “playing into Putin’s hands” by having constant public arguments about sending Taurus missiles to Kyiv, which the chancellor has firmly ruled out.