Most Germans approve of border controls amid refugee crisis – poll

German policemen stand in front of migrants waiting to cross the border from Austria to Germany near Freilassing, Germany. © Michaela Rehle
As Germany asks the EU to approve an extension of border controls amid Europe’s worsening refugee crisis, a recent poll shows that the vast majority of its citizens support the temporary measure.

Germany introduced border controls on September 13 for a period of 10 days and is now asking the European Commission to allow it to extend the measure for another 20 days to cope with record refugee flows, a spokeswoman for the EU’s executive body told Reuters on Wednesday.

In the meantime, a YouGov poll released on Tuesday showed that as many as 78 percent of German respondents, particularly those living near the Austrian border, approve of establishing border controls to regulate the influx of refugees.

According to the poll, only 16 percent oppose the measure. However, the poll also shows that only 55 percent of Germans believe that it will be effective in stemming the flow of refugees. More than one third of respondents, 38 percent, are skeptical.

Such massive backing for border controls among the populace could be explained by the fact that three out of five Germans supported them even before they were implemented, as was revealed in another YouGov poll taken in late June.

At that time, almost 60 percent of Germans said they would welcome the re-instatement of border controls, with slightly less than one third against it.

This stance correlates with the people’s attitude toward the number of new refugees being accepted by Germany, as almost half consider the number to be either ‘a bit excessive’ or ‘way too abundant.’

The YouGov poll shows that only a little more than a quarter of respondents said Germany was capable of taking in more refugees, with only 12 percent claiming the country could receive ‘many more’ asylum seekers. These opinions have remained rather stable since the beginning of the year, with opinion polls showing no significant changes.

Investigation into infringement of asylum laws

In the meantime, Brussels has launched an investigation into alleged violations of EU asylum laws by Germany and 18 more EU member-states.

The European Commission has accused Germany and other countries – including France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Hungary – of not upholding minimum EU standards for asylum procedures and reception conditions, as well as of not clearly stating reasons for granting asylum protection.

“The pieces of legislation concerned focus on fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions (the Asylum Procedures Directive); ensuring that there are humane physical reception conditions (such as housing) for asylum seekers across the EU (the Reception Conditions Directive); and clarifying the grounds for granting international protection,” the Commission said in a statement.

“These standards need to be fully implemented and respected, while always respecting the dignity and human rights of the applicants," the statement says.

The countries under investigation will first receive a letter of formal notice from the Commission and, if they fail to fully implement the EU norms within two months, they could face indictment by the European Court.

The investigation was launched shortly after EU interior ministers approved a plan to redistribute some 120,000 refugees among the member-states, adopting it by a majority vote against the opposition of the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary.

Slovakia later claimed it would challenge the decision in court.