Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Difficult Merkel allies mull next move in German migrant row

Ahead of Macron meeting, Merkel insists migration needs 'European answer' German Chancellor Angela Merkel's leadership under threat over migrant policy
| 20 June, 2018, 01:49

But just last month, Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer released statistics showing that crime is at its lowest level in more than two and a half decades. He had suggested he could implement the proposals unilaterally, in defiance of both European regulations and the chancellor.

Merkel immediately rejected the threat, saying there would be "no automatism" if no European deal was found, and warned Seehofer and his Bavarian CSU party that she is ultimately in charge of government policy.

She said she would report back July 1 on the results of her negotiations, and that as far as she's concerned it's not yet clear what will happen if there's no European deal on the divisive topic.

Seehofer, who took on the interior ministry portfolio less than 100 days ago, said he had only recently learnt that migrants who had already been denied asylum by Germany and been issued re-entry bans were still being allowed back in. She also acknowledged the difficulty of the task ahead: "I am under pressure now, and those who know Europe know that this is not easy".

Merkel now faces a risky mutiny from her hardline Bavarian Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has vowed to defy her and order police to shut German borders to most asylum seekers by early July absent an European Union accord. She said Monday she supports 62 of his 63 points.

The move sparked a clash between France and Italy as immigration also triggered a domestic crisis for Merkel, a leader already weakened by her decision in 2015 to keep open German borders to a mass influx of more than one million refugees.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth-term government took almost six months to put together, taking office in March after the centre-left Social Democrats reluctantly agreed to team up with her conservatives again.

The CSU's top priority is a hard October state election in Bavaria in which it is trying to tamp down support for the anti-migration Alternative for Germany party.

End of the road for Merkel?


In another tweet he wrote, "We don't want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!".

The row threatens to scupper Merkel's three-month-old coalition and limits her capacity for agreeing to far-reaching euro zone reforms, of which many in her conservative bloc are skeptical.

Her position as chancellor is now in question, but it remains unclear precisely how the situation will develop.

How did we get here?

Merkel argues that Germany must not take the sudden and unilateral step of rejecting asylum seekers at the border, which would add to the burden faced by frontline countries like Italy and Greece.

"It is in Germany's interest to achieve the regulation of migration in a good partnership with our European neighbours", Ms Merkel said.

Trump's criticism and Seehofer's insubordination might strengthen Merkel's hand and bring the European Union closer to a common policy on migration and refugees.

Merkel is due to hold a press conference on Monday. While Paris tends to support more pooling of resources, Berlin, ever wary of a "transfer union" that would force German taxpayers to fund others deficits', pushes back.

Italy's support will be crucial if the chancellor is to draw up a joint European Union agreement on the issue. Germany's CSU is running scared because they have aligned themselves with a chancellor who is seen as not caring that her policies have allowed criminal aliens to run wild.

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