French, German Leaders Urge 'European Response' To Migrant Crisis

Cornelia Mascio
Giugno 20, 2018

"Whoever knows Europe, realizes this is no easy task", Merkel told reporters in Berlin yesterday after a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union's executive.

Mr Schmieding said: "She will need a bit of a compromise here and there".

Her hardline interior minister Horst Seehofer on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to reach such European Union deals, threatening he would otherwise defy her and shutter German borders to these migrants, a move that would likely end their coalition.

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.

But Mrs Merkel opposed to this move, claiming Germany will follow the EU's immigration laws.

But the chancellor may have no choice, given Seehofer's vow to launch the nuclear option of shutting Germany's borders in defiance of her - an act of rebellion which would force his sacking.

With an eye on October's Bavaria state election, the CSU is anxious to assure voters that it has a roadmap to curb the migrant influx.

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

But she reiterated her opposition to Germany unilaterally closing its borders as this would pass the migrant burden on to neighboring countries, "unleashing undesired domino effects".

Merkel said she would seek agreement with European nations at a June 28-29 EU summit, but stressed there was "no automatism" about rejecting asylum seekers if no deals are reached.

"After the European Council, the (CDU) party presidency will decide what to do next", she told a news conference. Her government toughened asylum rules and declared several countries "safe", meaning people from there can't expect to get refuge in Germany. Merkel said she will have to discuss "what is important for others; I can't say today what that is".

"By granting Merkel her two weeks, the CSU is ostensibly making effective bilateral deals their condition for staying in the grand coalition", said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group. "If there is no solution reached, in July we will have to begin" turning people away.

The poor showing also set off an internal power struggle: Seehofer salvaged his job as party leader but gave up the Bavarian governor's job to younger rival Markus Soeder.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it would be "very hard to reach a solution" on hosting asylum seekers next week. For her part, Merkel said there would be no "automatic action" and issued a warning that she was in charge of implementing measures - a thinly veiled threat that she can sack him if he goes his own way. But his recent attack on the German government at least makes political sense. The two conservative parties govern Germany in a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats. The CSU's share of the vote in Bavaria dropped 10.5 percentage points to 38.8 percent, with Alternative for Germany a major beneficiary.

Macron said Paris and Berlin agreed that European Union countries must be able to turn back at their borders all asylum seekers who previously registered in another member country - usually their Mediterranean first port of call.

The EASO said in an annual report Monday that just over 728,000 application requests were made for worldwide protection in 2017, compared to nearly 1.3 million applications the previous year.

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