Tuesday 30 August 2016

Angela Merkel targets March 10 refugee deal

Published 13/02/2016 | 02:30

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP
Mary Rose Burke, director of policy & corporate affairs at IBEC, with the CEO of the Federation of German Industries, Dr Markus Kerber, in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gary O’Neill

Germany expects to strike a deal in March to get Ireland and other European Union nations to accept a share of the growing flow of migrants from the Middle East, the head of the country's biggest employers group said in Dublin yesterday.

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Having used up political capital in the wake of the financial crisis, Germany may have to make concessions, potentially including a debt agreement for Greece, in order to secure a longer-term deal, he said.

With her CDU party facing three key state elections over the next months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under intense pressure to secure agreement at a summit of European leaders on March 10.

A deal would see the other 27 EU states each take a share of any further arrivals, with quotas based on population or wealth, Dr Markus Kerber, CEO of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told a meeting of Irish business leaders in Dublin hosted by Ibec. With 1.1 million people arriving into the country last year, the migration crisis is now Germany's biggest political issue.

It costs Germany's government €15bn a year for every million refugees it takes in, and many of those arriving will take years to train in language and vocational skills, Dr Kerber said.

Growing disquiet at home over the impact of the refugee crisis is eroding political support for Mrs Merkel's CDU party.

To shore up her party's backing, Ms Merkel needs to be able to demonstrate a victory in securing an EU-wide deal to share migrants, plus agreement with Turkey to stem the flow of people from there into neighbouring Greece, and victory in two out of three crunch state elections, Dr Kerber said.

DONAL O'DONOVAN

Irish Independent

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