Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Seehofer’s last-ditch attempt to agree on migration issue

German interior minister 'offers to resign' over migrants German government under threat as interior minister offers to resign over immigration deal: Reports
Nellie Chapman | 04 July, 2018, 00:03

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

Merkel, however, rejected a key provision: turning back at the border all migrants previously registered in another European Union country as a unilateral act that would come at the expense of other member states.

For the moment, the truce clears an obstacle that was eroding the chancellor's authority at a time when her challenges include a trade conflict with US President Donald Trump, the UK's exit from the European Union and rising populism across Europe. In shoring up her job and the government for now, she may have created a ripple effect that will spread out to the rest of the European Union soon.

A almost eight-hour meeting of the CSU in Munich was put on hold after the party's leader, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, made his offer to resign both from Merkel's Cabinet and as head of the CSU.

All that changed when Merkel, in the boldest move of her 12-year-old chancellorship, in 2015 made a decision to keep open German borders to a wave of migrants moving through Europe via the Balkans route.

"Seehofer is promising his voters in Bavaria that the same Dublin system [for asylum applications] that hasn't worked for 20 years is suddenly going to run smoothly because of new transit centres in Bavaria", Knaus told the Guardian.

Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles said the plan was worthless without bilateral deals with countries such as Italy and Austria.

Crucially for Merkel, CDU lawmakers are backing her - so far.

He said that "there is an abundance of possibilities. for compromises", but didn't specify what they were.

But the German news agency dpa reported that Seehofer told the meeting of CSU officials that he thinks the measures do not adequately accomplish his goals.

The Forsa poll showed that 54 percent of Germans would have favored a CDU-CSU split over the migration question while 38 percent welcomed the agreement and the unity of the two sister parties.

Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) was propelled into federal parliament for the first time previous year by outrage over immigration, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition.

In a sign of mounting frustration, Seehofer reportedly told CSU colleagues that he "travelled especially to Berlin but the chancellor is moving zero point zero" per cent with her stance. Merkel meets UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Hungary's Viktor Orban on Thursday, before heading to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit with Trump next week. Merkel's other coalition, the Social Democratic Party, has yet to agree to the deal. At the height of the record influx of migrants in 2015, Merkel agreed to a CSU proposal to set up transit zones at the border to filter out migrants who have little chance of gaining asylum.

"The cost of getting to this deal ended up being much higher than the benefit of the actual outcome", she said.