BERLIN — Refugees who come to Germany after entering the European Union through Spain can be turned back at the border under the terms of an agreement between Berlin and Madrid, the German Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
The agreement, which was signed on Monday and will take effect on Saturday, is the first of its kind since June, when an argument over migration and border controls threatened to bring down the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
It will allow Germany to turn away refugees arriving along that increasingly important migration route, and is a sign of how the country’s politics have shifted since 2015, when Ms. Merkel welcomed more than a million people, some of whom had already passed through other European Union member states.
The chancellor won verbal agreement for such deals from Greece, Italy and Spain at a Brussels summit meeting in June, after her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, threatened to establish a hard border between Germany and Austria to restrict migrants.
Beginning Saturday, anyone entering Germany who is determined to have already registered as a refugee in Spain can be sent back there within 48 hours, Eleonore Petermann, a spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry, told reporters. Germany did not offer Spain compensation, she said.
Talks with Athens and Rome are also underway, Ms. Petermann added, but are “not yet completed.” The agreement reached with Spain could serve as a basis for deals with those two countries, said Mathias Middelberg, a lawmaker with Ms. Merkel’s conservative party.
In an interview with the German daily Handelsblatt, Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said the new deal would affect only a “very small” number of people. But he warned that the Schengen system, which allows people and goods to travel freely among some European Union member states, could be endangered by further measures to return to hard borders.
“That is the great risk, if we don’t accept that we now have a shared outer border, then we will lose the advantages of Schengen,” Mr. Borrell said. “For Spain, with its 80 million visiting tourists every year, that would amount to a logistical and financial meltdown.”
On Saturday, as the agreement comes into effect, Ms. Merkel will begin a two-day visit with Pedro Sánchez, the new prime minister of Spain.