BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe is a place where a foreigner can’t escape, where an outsider can’t get away, where a minority can’t win, a country in which there are no winners, and where the rule of law means everything is not so black and white.
For a country that has become a beacon for migrants and refugees, it is also a place to escape.
As Europe’s refugee crisis grows in recent years, the continent’s political elite has been scrambling to come up with a plan to ease its borders, especially after Germany, the European Union’s most populous country, closed its borders to refugees last month.
Yet despite the challenges, the migration flow into Europe has been stable since 2014, according to data compiled by the German government.
It is the highest in decades.
The latest figures show that Germany’s population of about one million people has shrunk by more than 2.5 million in the past three years, with only a small fraction of the arrivals being new arrivals.
It is the third straight year that migration to Germany has been low, and is far higher than the official figures suggest, said Jan-Willem Meer, head of research at the Centre for Global Migration at the University of Berlin.
It remains to be seen whether the current surge of migrants will reverse.
It will be a test for politicians trying to find a compromise between the bloc’s many differences and the demands of citizens who want a more equal society.
Some have said it would be difficult for Germany to handle such a large influx.
“Germany is not the kind of country that can be made to change its policies, especially if you have a refugee problem,” said Daniel Schmitt, a former finance minister in Merkel’s Christian Democrats and now a member of the Social Democratic Party.
“The only thing that is likely to happen is that there will be more migrants.
We are in the beginning stages of that process.”
It is unclear how many migrants Germany can handle.
The current estimate is about 600,000, compared with the 1.2 million to 2 million it took in the same period a decade ago.
It could be more than half that figure if there are more refugees arriving than arriving.
The migration crisis is also proving harder to control than it was during the global financial crisis, when countries were forced to accept migrants and send money home to the rest of the world.
Migration is currently a major topic of discussion in the German parliament.
The main opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has said it will not join a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.
It wants to keep the country’s borders open.
But Merkel has also made clear she does not want to see a return to the days of mass migration.
“I am a refugee,” she said during a speech at the European Parliament in February.
“The asylum seekers who came to me do not belong to my family.
They do not have my mother, father, sister, aunt, uncle, brother.
We do not want them to come back.”
Her government has been slow to act on her promise, with many saying it is too late.
The government has yet to offer any concrete plan for handling the migrants.
On Sunday, Merkel will unveil a new migration policy which she said will be implemented in parallel with a new law on asylum seekers.
But it has been criticized for its vague wording, which critics say could allow refugees to come to Germany in the first place.
A migrant waits for processing at a train station in Mafraq, Morocco, December 1, 2017.
REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir Germany is in a similar position as the United States when it comes to migrants.
The United States accepted more than 11 million asylum seekers in the year to March 2017, more than double the number who applied in the previous year, according the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank.
The biggest refugee flows in Europe are from Syria and Afghanistan.
In some countries, Germany is the biggest destination for asylum seekers, with more than 5.4 million arriving in Germany in 2017.
In the United Kingdom, migrants have been pouring into the country from Turkey, which has been at the center of a crackdown on asylum-seekers since last summer.
The country has seen a surge in arrivals from Central Europe, including Hungary, which saw a record influx of migrants last year.
“It is a tragedy that we have to put up with this situation,” said Wolfgang Albers, the president of the German-language Society for European Policy Studies.
“There is no way to solve the problem if we don’t act on it.”
The German government has also had to deal with a surge of refugees who came here in 2015 from Turkey and other parts of the Middle East.
The influx has hit Germany hard, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has called it a “global crisis”.