Hardliners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to tighten asylum rules or risk pitching Germany into a political crisis that would also rattle Europe.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s CSU party at a meeting unanimously backed his call to give Merkel a fortnight to find a European deal on the burning issue by a June 28th-29th EU summit, failing which he would order border police to turn back migrants.
Three years after her decision to open Germany’s borders to migrants fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and misery elsewhere, Merkel is still struggling to find a sustainable response to complaints from the CSU, her Bavarian allies, over her refugee policy.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned Chancellor Angela Merkel against dismissing him for possible lone wolf approach to immigration.
Seehofer said in an interview with the Passauer Neuer Presse newspaper on Friday that it would be the first time “looking after and taking care of the security and order of the country is the reason giving for firing a minister.”
Seehofer dismissed the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Jutta Cordt, it was revealed on Friday, as divisions over immigration deepened at the top of Germany’s ruling coalition.
Cordt had been under heavy criticism after aninternal review by BAMF found that the agency’s Bremen branch had regularly and knowingly ignored legal and internal regulations.
An Interior Ministry spokesman told the DPA news agency that Seehofer had informed Cordt of his decision to dismiss her on Wednesday.
The allegations over Bremen date back to the 2013-16 period. Cordt only took over the agency in 2017.
Opposition lawmaker Linda Teuteberg of the pro-business Free Democrats said Cordt had been a “sacrificial lamb.”
However, Andrea Lindhaus, a CSU ally of Seehofer, said Cordt had “done a good job, but replacing her is the only way to re-establish trust for a new start.”
Read more: Going undercover at Germany’s BAMF refugee agency
Seehofer’s actions come as he seeks to toughen the German government’s stance on migration, with a plan to reject those with no documentation and individuals seeking re-entry after deportation. The interior minister, from the CSU Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has also said refugees who have already registered in another European Union country should be rejected.
As Chancellor Angela Merkel fights to save her government in a heated battle over immigration, an opinion poll Friday showed most Germans support the tougher line of her rebel interior minister.
The survey found that 62 percent of respondents were in favour of turning back undocumented migrants at the border, in line with the stance of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who is openly challenging Merkel.
And 86 percent want faster deportations of rejected asylum seekers, a process now often held up by bureaucratic hurdles and legal challenges, according to the Infratest dimap poll.
The survey turns up the pressure on Merkel, who has faced a backlash for allowing into Germany more than one million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.
The mass influx sparked the rise of the far-right and anti-Islam AfD party, which entered parliament last September. Merkel’s welcome to refugees also infuriated Seehofer and his CSU, the sister party of her Christian Democrats in the southern state of Bavaria, which became the main entry point for most migrants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday downplayed expectations that the EU summit next Thursday will be able to come to a full agreement to deal with the bloc’s management of migration.
Merkel instead advocated bilateral and trilateral deals to cope with migrants in Europe.
EU nations have to see “how can we help each other without always having to wait for all 28, but by thinking what’s important to whom,” Merkel said as she entered the mini-summit in Brussels on Sunday afternoon.
French President Emmanuel Macron also echoed Merkel’s suggestion of members acting in smaller groups.
Leaders of 16 European Union nations met for informal talks in a bid to iron out differences over migration. The mini-summit takes place amid domestic difficulties in Germany over the issue of migration and a crackdown on NGO rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
Angela Merkel’s future threatened by ‘very serious’ immigration row as emergency talks fail
German president, normally above the fray, urges resolution to conflict
Jon Stone Europe Correspondent
5 hours ag
Migration could be a “make or break” issue for the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an impassioned speech Thursday ahead of a critical EU summit.
She pressed the German Parliament to back a tough but humane asylum and migration policy for the European Union, warning that if Germany fails to support that, migration issues could define Europe’s destiny.
The crunch point comes at a time when Europe is already dealing with a lingering debt crisis, a rise in European populism, an escalating trade war with the United States, questions over Washington’s commitment to NATO and faltering negotiations for Brexit.
erkel has two problems, both of which hinge on fixing Europe’s dysfunctional policy on asylum seekers.
First, she needs to quell a mutiny within her own party. Conservative hardliners from her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, or CSU, are under intense pressure to win back voters from the far-right, anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a CSU leader, was set to unveil a “migration masterplan” that would decrease the number of accepted asylum seekers, increase the number of deportations, and authorize police to immediately turn back at the border any asylum seeker that had already registered in another EU country.
Merkel has conceded on almost every point, except for one: allowing police to automatically reject asylum seekers at the German border. That, she says, would violate EU laws on freedom of movement and trigger a domino effect of other European nations throwing up hard borders.
Now, Seehofer is threatening to break Merkel’s coalition government, unless she can secure a better migration plan from the EU.
“Previously, the Chancellor’s style of leadership worked for two reasons,” Timo Lochocki a German political analyst, who is writing a book on the conservative politics in Germany, told CNN.
“First, there’s a discursive vacuum in Germany. So, her muddling through the refugee crisis went uncontested. But now you have the AfD and CSU contesting that.”
“Second, her political capital was so vast that didn’t have to pay attention to the conservative wings in her party. But her election win was so slim, she now need so pay attention.”
This all leads to Merkel’s second problem: She needs an EU migration policy that satisfies her domestic critics but also placates other EU states reeling from their own migration headaches.
Merkel needs a way to speed up the repatriation and deportation of asylum seekers but also guarantees a fair way to distribute and resettle accepted refugees across the EU, not just in the country they landed in. And she needs to do it by July 1, her self-imposed deadline.
Germany’s interior minister has offered to resign over Angela Merkel’s EU deal to tackle immigration, reports say.
Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, a key party in Mrs Merkel’s coalition, has grown increasingly angry at her position on immigration.
Last week he threatened to turn asylum seekers away from Germany’s borders unless Mrs Merkel reached an acceptable deal with other EU partners.
His stance put Mrs Merkel’s coalition and her political future in question.
Late on Sunday, Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) passed a resolution supporting her position on migration. CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the party believed a European solution was necessary.
But separate reports from sources within the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, indicated Mr Seehofer had offered to resign both as leader of the CSU and as interior minister. He is due to make a statement shortly.
European Union leaders claimed a breakthrough deal Friday on how to deal with the pressures of migration after all-night talks helped accommodate Italian demands for more help.
The EU leaders said the agreement would bolster the bloc’s external borders and improve the solidarity among member nations to ease pressure on point-of-entry nations like Greece and Italy.
The plan proposes screening migrants in North Africa for asylum eligibility and setting up control centers within the bloc by nations which would volunteer to have them.
By promising to share responsibility — albeit only on a voluntary basis — this agreement binds the EU together and offers up a rebuke to the nationalist policies of European leaders like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who had warned of an “invasion” of migrants, despite the fact that illegal border crossings are down 95%.
But for Merkel, this wording was key: “Member States should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movement and to closely cooperate amongst each other to that end.”
That’s exactly what she needed to keep the critics in her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, from rebelling — for now, anyway. Horst Seehofer, the CSU leader and German interior minister, had threatened to trigger a collapse of the government unless Merkel found a way for the EU to allow Germany to push back asylum seekers who had already registered in another EU country.
Merkel delivered and the CSU is already making positive noises.
“The EU summit took a big step towards a better migration policy. Europe stands for humanity towards people in need, determination in the protection of external borders and in the fight against illegal migration, as well as for solidarity with one another,” CSU Party Chairman Manfred Weber tweeted. “The EU is showing its capacity to act.”
h/t Digital mix guy