Majority of Germans support reinstating controls at EU’s internal borders to stop the migration of refugees and asylum seekers, according to a survey released by public broadcaster ZDF.
Fifty-eight percent of Germans said they are in favor of reintroducing border controls even if such measures negatively affect tourism and economy.
The ZDF Politbarometer poll showed 39 percent of Germans opposed the return of border checks across the EU’s free travel zone.
A previous poll by the public broadcaster in January found that 50 percent of Germans were positive about reinstating border controls, while 46 percent expressed concerns over the negative impact on its economy.
Border controls might bring annually €10 billion ($11.1 billion) additional costs for German businessmen, according to calculations of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
But growing number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to Germany has led to calls by conservative politicians to reintroduce border controls.
EU’s largest economy took in a record 1.1 million refugees last year and the continued refugee influx has increased political pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who defended an open door policy for asylum seekers.
Merkel has so far dismissed calls for setting an upper limit for refugees or closing borders, and argued that a solution to the crisis can only be achieved through closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey and by EU members agreeing to share the burden.
In her remarks after a meeting of EU heads of government in Brussels Thursday, Merkel said that a joint action plan agreed between the EU and Ankara in November 2015 to stop irregular migration and improve conditions of refugees in Turkey should continue to be implemented.
The daily average number of refugees that cross from Turkey to Greece has already decreased to 1,300 this month, Merkel said, adding that it was 2,000 a month ago, and 3,000 in December 2015.
“Whether these numbers have decreased mainly due to weather conditions or due to the measures that have been implemented is something that remains to be seen,” Merkel said.
She noted that the EU and Turkey will gather an extraordinary summit in the first week of March to review the interim results of their joint action plan.
“We need to swiftly reach an assessment on that to see whether or not the way we have chosen is the right one,” she said.
“Protecting our external borders is the prerequisite for having freedom of movement within the European Union,” she added.
At the EU-Turkey summit last November, Brussels and Ankara agreed to take measures to strengthen patrols in the Aegean and to counter people-smuggling gangs ferrying refugees into Europe by sea.
The EU has also promised 3 billion euros ($3.28 billion) aid to Turkey to support projects that would improve the living conditions of refugees in the country.
The deal also foresees reviving Turkey’s EU membership talks and the process for the prospect of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens into the EU.