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The Rise of German Isolationism

The refusal of EU leaders to agree on a common solution to the refugee crisis is not just hurting the newcomers; it is also damaging the EU’s future, as it bolsters isolationist forces in Germany. The recent victory of far-right figures in Germany's regional elections should serve as a stark warning to all EU members.

BERLIN – In Germany’s recent regional elections, voters delivered a resounding rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union. With an increasing number of Germans losing confidence in a European solution to the ongoing refugee crisis, calls for German isolation and unilateralism are growing louder – and far-right political forces are gaining traction.

This is highly troubling, but it should not be shocking. The European Union has consistently failed to find joint solutions to shared problems, even as it has been wracked by a series of crises. In the current refugee crisis, EU countries have shown a distinct lack of solidarity with Germany, with many refusing to take on even a small share of the burden. Despite the recent deal with Turkey aimed at reducing the flow of Syrian refugees, most Germans do not expect their EU partners to change course.

This is all the more infuriating for Germans, given that their country bore the heaviest financial burden for the rescue programs carried out in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain in recent years. Add to that sense of betrayal the looming possibility of a British exit from the EU, and it is not difficult to see why Germans feel that distancing themselves from Europe may well be their best bet.

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