The German press dubbed it the “September fairytale”: the spontaneous outbreak of Willkommenskultur (“welcome culture”) for the influx of up to 1m people the country expects this year. A magazine cover even depicted Angela Merkel, the chancellor, as Mother Teresa. Now reality is impinging. Today the European Union’s interior ministers will discuss Germany’s demands for a fairer allocation of migrants; few expect success. Tomorrow heads of government meet (ditto). On Thursday Germany’s 16 states will discuss costs, estimated at €10 billion ($11.2 billion), with the federal government. Meanwhile the governing coalition is squabbling. Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister, is blamed for backlogs in registration. He wants lower welfare payments for asylum-seekers and an EU-wide cap on refugees. The centre-left Social Democrats in the coalition think both steps would be unconstitutional. Some want Mr de Maizière’s resignation. German fairytales can have unpredictable and unhappy endings.