Europe News

Merkel kicking can down the road with her open-door refugee policy: Analyst

JOHN THYS | AFP | Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not risk her reputation and credibility with a refugee policy U-turn in spite of the growing anti-immigration sentiment at home and Donald Trump's election victory in the U.S., an analyst has told CNBC.

Angela Merkel is widely expected to run for her fourth term as Chancellor in September 2017 despite mounting criticism regarding her open-door refugee policy, which is one of the most generous policies to asylum-seekers in Europe.

Merkel's approval ratings in Germany are at five-year lows heading into the election yet the consensus among analysts is that she would still be victorious, if she decided to run.

Incremental change

Larissa Brunner, analyst for Western Europe at think-tank Oxford Analytica told CNBC in a phone interview, "If Merkel decides to run then yes, definitely, she will win the election.

"There is no real effective opposition from Sigmar Gabriel and his party (the Social Democratic Party) and besides he is not very popular. Though, it is very unlikely that (Merkel's) Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will emerge as the strongest party."

Recent state elections demonstrate a growing level of support for anti-immigration policies and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party are expected to siphon off votes from the CDU and gain an increasing number of seats in next year's poll.

Populist parties throughout Europe celebrated the victory of the U.S. President-elect on Wednesday with far-right groups in France, the Netherlands and Austria buoyed by Trump's surprise win.

In an effort to win over voters who support anti-immigration policies, Merkel's CDU party have been accused of altering their stance in the run-up to the election in 2017.

Brunner is skeptical that Merkel will adopt her party's liberal refugee policy stance too much and argued that it is important to remember the context of an election campaign.

Brunner said, "Merkel's reputation and credibility is so closely linked to refugee policy that it would be extremely hard to U-turn now. Incremental change is as much as can be expected… slow shifts to kick the can down the road until the problem goes away."

Nothing official has been approved

Markus Heine | NurPhoto via Getty Images

German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, reported at the weekend that the country's Interior Ministry were considering preventing migrants from ever reaching the country by picking them up in the Mediterranean sea and returning them to Africa.

A spokesperson from Germany's Federal Ministry of Interior confirmed by email that on several occasions there had been talks to expand on the model of the agreement between the European Union and Turkey for processing and accommodating migrants and asylum-seekers, however nothing official has been approved.

The spokesperson told CNBC in an email, "There are no concrete plans or precise ideas yet. Therefore we cannot confirm that there are concrete plans on sending back migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Such agreements would have to be developed and negotiated by the European Union," they added.

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