Merkel’s last-ditch migrant deal faces European Union headwinds

04 July, 2018, 13:22 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal on immigration, which had threatened to break up her coalition only four months into her new term, agreeing to build transit camps for refugees attempting to cross into Germany from Austria.

Following two days of negotiations, Merkels' Christian Democtratic Union party and Seehofer's Christian Social Union made a deal that Merkel referred to as a "really good compromise".

And this week that split - personified by German interior minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer - brought Germany's government to the brink of collapse.

Speaking to reporters Merkel stressed that the compromise was in keeping with European Union rules.

Meanwhile, migration experts have criticised the border arrangement proposed by Merkel and Seehofer.

Knaus, director of the thinktank ESM, said the deal struck by the German government could have the unintended outcome of increasing migration into Germany, if for example the Greek government used the new agreement to unite families with people who had already arrived in Germany, while in return taking back some asylum seekers who have been finger-printed in Greece.

Seehofer said he had held a "conversation with no effect" on Sunday evening with the German chancellor, BBC reported.

The border deal, hailed by the German chancellor as a "good compromise", foresees setting up so-called transit centres on the southern border, where asylum seekers who have already been registered in other European Union countries will be held until they can be sent back to those countries.




Merkel, who has been in office since 2005, warned last week the battle over migration could decide the EU's future.

The deal, partly agreed to by Merkel to avoid divisions in her party, still must pass a series of approvals - from the Social Democrats, the other part of Merkel's coalition.

German politicians who criticized the agreement say Merkel and her conservatives had abandoned the country's moral mission.

The Austrian government reacted furiously to a political deal by Angela Merkel's government to hold migrants at transit centres on its border with Germany, and said it was prepared to impose new controls on its own borders with Italy and Slovenia.

"The CSU's immigration policy and its treatment to its sister party are only supported by a minority", Forsa head Manfred Güllner told the RTL/n-tv broadcaster, which commissioned the survey.

Political stability was upset by Merkel's 2015 decision to keep borders open to migrants and refugees arriving from the Middle East via the Balkans, Hungary and Austria.

CSU leaders are divided over how to face down a challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) in October's regional election.

A separate Forsa poll Monday showed that Seehofer had even failed to rally a majority of CSU voters behind him, with 49% backing Merkel in the dispute against 48% for the interior minister and party leader. While much of what was agreed remains vague, it is clear that the "solution" will involve "transit centres" on Germany's border with Austria and bilateral deals with other European Union nations.

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