The German state of Bavaria has announced that it might take measures to send refugees back to Austria. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she didn't support the idea of limiting the number of asylum seekers in any way.
Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer announced plans to meet with his cabinet this week to discuss "self-defense measures," which could include sending some refugees back to Austria. Seehofer said state authorities were stretched beyond their limits in their work to house and care for all the people seeking refuge in southern German state. He had previously called on introducing limits to the number of refugees that Germany would accommodate.
Seehofer said more than 225,000 refugees had arrived in Bavaria in less than five weeks. With about 10,000 refugees arriving in Germany every day, Bavaria has been the main entry point for those fleeing war or poverty in the Middle East and beyond, with most of them entering Germany through Austria.
Seehofer will meet with his cabinet on Friday to discuss 'emergency measures' to address the refugee crisis
Seehofer told the German daily "Bild" that the state government would agree on a wide-ranging package of measures on Friday that included "integration, education and training."
"On top of that there will be specific self-defense measures to limit migration, such as sending back people to the border with Austria and the immediate transfer of newly-arrived asylum seekers within Germany," Seehofer said.
European interior ministers also met on Thursday to discuss a wider policy of easing deportation as the continent continues to struggle under the largest refugee influx since World War II.
Opposition and legal hurdles
Seehofer has clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on how to handle the refugee crisis. He has repeatedly insisted on limiting the number of people allowed to seek asylum in Germany. So far, Merkel has refused to introduce any such cap.
"There will not be an entry stop," she had told Germany's state-run ARD television on Wednesday after meeting with her cabinet.
Legally speaking, Bavaria might not be in a position to send back refugees of its own accord, as this would normally be a matter for the federal government in Berlin. Austria said it would have to "respond" if Bavaria put measures in place that that led to a build up of refugees along the border.
Austria's foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, stated that there was no concrete conflict between Bavaria and his country. Austria's interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, added that no action needed to be taken before Seehofer's cabinet meeting on Friday.
ss/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)