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Criticism for border shake-up proposal

German and French plans to reclaim control of their borders have been condemned by German politicians as "right-wing populist rhetoric". The move comes ahead of Sunday's first round vote in the French Presidential elections, in which President Nicolas Sarkozy has been trailing in the polls.

Criticism for border shake-up proposal
Photo: DPA

“The French President is attempting to improve his hopeless situation with right-wing populist rhetoric,” Green party chairwoman Claudia Roth told the Hamburger Abendblatt on Saturday.

Critics say the proposal to radically reform the Schengen agreement – which abolished frontier controls in 1995 – would be a retrograde step for Europe. Under the agreement immigrants to Europe are allowed to move freely between states once inside the Schengen area without having to show identification.

“A Europe without border installations and tollgates was the dream of all those who began the European unification process,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Focus magazine on Saturday. “We can’t jeopardize that now and especially not for small, tactical electoral gains.”

In a joint letter sent this week to the European Union’s Danish chair, French and German Interior Ministers Claude Guéant and Hans-Peter Friedrich said that where governments within the area fail to meet obligations to manage external frontiers partners should have “the possibility, as a last resort, to reintroduce internal frontiers for a period not greater than 30 days.”

Head of the German police union GdP told the Hamburger Abendblatt on Saturday he doubts this would be workable, as after the Schengen agreement came into force a large number of Germany’s 10,000 border officials were deployed elsewhere.

But the proposal probably won’t get that far as it seems unlikely that it will find support on a European level.

President of the EU Parliament Martin Schluz has rejected the idea, which would see member states clawing back some control over their own borders.

“The community law of the union can’t be annulled by a bilateral announcement of two Interior Ministers,” he told the Passauer Neuen Presse on Saturday.

Schultz told the paper the “strange” proposal would not find majority support in the EU Council or in the EU Parliament.

DAPD/jlb

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POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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