Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek European Union roadmap

Gladys Abbott
June 18, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at a news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (not pictured) in the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 15, 2018.

Joachim Herrmann, Bavaria's interior minister, insisted the CSU was not intending to destabilise the CDU.

Merkel welcomed compromise in the dispute, which has threatened to destabilise a coalition cobbled together just three months ago, and said her Christian Democrat (CDU) party would decide how to proceed after the two-week deadline elapsed.

A CSU leadership meeting Monday in Munich is likely to authorise Seehofer to go ahead with his plan - but it's unclear at what point leaders want it to take effect.

She explained that refugees brought back to another country in accordance with the Dublin Regulation, a wide-ranging series of rules agreed past year, and those who have a re-entry ban because they have been registered in another country, would not be allowed to enter Germany.

"Personally, I think that illegal migration is one of the challenges for the European Union and therefore I believe that we shouldn't act unilaterally, that we shouldn't act without coordination and that we shouldn't act in a way that burdens third parties involved", Merkel said.

Should Seehofer opt to institute border controls immediately, it would force Merkel to make a fateful choice: Acquiesce and emerge a dramatically weakened leader, or fire Seehofer and risk a break with the CSU that could bring her government crashing down.

Seehofer told reporters he would prepare the measures but wait until after the European Council summit at the end of next week to implement them, in order to see whether Merkel could reach an agreement with EU leaders.

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In a column for in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, meanwhile, Seehofer wrote: "It is essential that the [European Union] summit takes a decision at the end of June".

Horst Seehofer and Angela Merkel. Italy's new populist government - made up of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant League party - is taking a hard line on migration and has already begun turning away boats of migrants from its ports.

Merkel and Seehofer papered over the cracks ahead of last year's national election, but support for both parties still dropped significantly.

Bavarian governor Markus Soeder and the party's top federal lawmaker, Alexander Dobrindt, have been even more vehement than Seehofer in demanding immediate action on migration.

Merkel said she will hold talks on bilateral agreements with other European countries at and around a June 28-29 EU summit. The CSU's hard line with Merkel is widely seen in Berlin as an attempt by the party to emancipate itself from the chancellor before the poll.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CSU has been one of the fiercest critics of Chancello Angela Merkel's liberal stance that allowed a million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015.

Germany had the most asylum seekers of any European nation, with more than 200,000.

"There is a context here of rising criminality, which to a statistical degree is part of the migrant problem", he said, adding that Democrats in the US and Merkel in Germany both "neglected to their peril" the opposition among citizens to illegal immigration and lax border security.

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