Merkel reaches border deal 

Merkel reaches border deal 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reached a deal on migration with her Bavarian interior minister, Horst Seehofer, defusing a row that had threatened her government and the wider European Union. 

Both sides agreed “a good compromise … after a difficult struggle”, Merkel said, adding it involved setting up holding and processing centres for asylum seekers near Germany’s borders.

She said German “transit centres” would “order and steer secondary migration”; the movement of migrants within the EU. The chancellor said the deal would balance national and international approaches to the issue of how to gain state control of migration.

“As such the spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved, and at the same time it’s an important step to order and control secondary migration,” she told the media. “We have found a good compromise after tough negotiations and difficult days.”

Her interior minister echoed her words. 

“We have reached an agreement after very intense negotiations,” Seehofer agreed, stressing that he intended to stay on in the cabinet.

“We now have a clear agreement how to prevent illegal immigration across the Austrian-German border in future,” said Seehofer, whose Christian Social Union (CSU) is the traditional Bavarian ally of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The agreement still requires the agreement of Merkel’s coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats, before becoming government policy.

SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles said the party would only be guided by its coalition agreement with the CDU-CSU, not by Seehofer’s demands.

Merkel and Seehofer have discussed the arrangement with the SPD at a coalition meeting and Nahles said many issues still needed to be clarified before she would give her approval.

“We’ll take the time we need to come to a decision,” said Nahles.

Merkel, after more than 12 years in office and the EU’s longest-serving head of government, has probably survived the latest bruising challenge to her authority.

Merkel has faced a backlash and has been weakened politically over her 2015 decision to keep open German borders to a mass influx of migrants, that led to more than 1 million arrivals.

As a consequence, the extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the federal parliament last year and now threatens Seehofer’s CSU in the Bavarian state election in October. 

Seehofer, a long-time Merkel critic, had openly challenged her with a plan to close Germany’s border crossings with Austria to many migrants, effectively daring the chancellor to sack him.

Seehofer’s resignation threat had raised the spectre of a break in the 70-year partnership between the right-of-centre CDU and CSU.



The border with Austria is concentrating German minds. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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