Merkel Says Euro Is at Risk If Europe Crumbles in Refugee Crisis

  • German chancellor sounds warning as next EU summit looms
  • Takes message to three German states with elections in March

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe’s discord over refugees threatens the euro, raising the stakes as European Union leaders prepare for their next emergency meeting to stem the crisis.

“If we disintegrate into small countries again, a common currency will be very difficult,” Merkel said at a party rally late Monday in the western German town of Volkmarsen. “What we are seeing in recent days, with certain countries going their own way to the detriment of another country like Greece -- that isn’t the European way.”

Angela Merkel speaks in Volkmarsen.

Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

Televised scenes of migrants being tear-gassed by Macedonian police at the Greek border are underscoring the humanitarian crisis as the rush to close borders bottles up refugees on the EU’s southeastern frontier. With nations along the so-called Balkans route blocking refugees from heading north from Greece, Merkel warned other EU nations on Sunday against allowing “chaos” to develop in a country that already “has many problems.”

Leaders of the EU’s 28 governments plan to meet Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu next Monday in Brussels to try to complete an agreement to limit the influx of people crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, whose country lies on the Balkans route, meets Merkel for talks in Berlin later Tuesday.

Latest polling suggests a possible turnaround Merkel’s approval ratings, which have slid since about 1 million refugees arrived in Germany last year. While 59 percent of Germans say they are unhappy with Merkel’s open-door policy, backing for her work as chancellor more broadly rose to 54 percent in late February from 46 percent at the start of the month, according to the poll for broadcaster ARD.

Merkel is taking her message to voters in three German states that go to the polls on March 13, including a campaign rally in the southern city of Freiburg later Tuesday. The contests in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt are partly a test of her refugee policy, with polls suggesting a decline in support for her Christian Democratic Union since last fall and gains for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, or AfD.

Polls in Baden-Wuerttemberg, where Freiburg is located, show the CDU running neck-in-neck with the state’s governing Green Party, which ousted the CDU from power five years ago in a region that’s home to companies including carmakers Daimler AG and Porsche SE.

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