Wolfgang Schäuble to mediate German government spat over migration policy

Pauline Gross
June 15, 2018

Pressure grew on Chancellor Angela Merkel from the right wing of her conservative bloc Thursday to tighten Germany's refugee policies and allow some migrants to be turned away at the borders, a spat that echoes wider European disagreements on how to deal with the huge numbers of asylum-seekers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the meeting with premiers of federal states in Berlin, Germany, June 14 2018.

Hardline SCU interior minister Horst Seehofer wants Germany to unilaterally impose tougher migration controls, while Merkel fears that will further divide the European Union and wants to coordinate controls throughBrussels.

"Trade surpluses are still calculated in a pretty old-fashioned way, based only on goods", Merkel told a business conference of her Christian Democratic Union party on Tuesday.

In that scenario, Merkel could lead a minority government with the third party in the coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), or call fresh elections that would likely benefit only the AfD, he said.

Dobrindt said the CSU party leadership would meet on Monday to make a final decision, appearing to set Merkel an ultimatum to relent or face a make-or-break government crisis.

Seehofer's plan would represent a reversal of Merkel's open-door policy for migrants from 2015, which has already been scaled back. In the meeting, Seehofer reportedly insisted that if Merkel adopted his solution for Germany, it would strengthen her hand in negotiating at a European level.

"Asylum tourism must end".

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Seehofer, the former premier of conservative Bavaria state, has always been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders at the height of Europe's migration crisis in 2015.

He told Bild newspaper: "The fate of democracy in Germany depends on whether politicians and the government are able to deal with citizens' serious concerns". In the 709-seat Bundestag (lower house) the CDU has 200 seats and the CSU 46. New right-wing leaders in neighboring Austria and Italy are pushing anti-immigration agendas, populist parties have gained ground across the European Union, and Merkel can't even rely on her conservatives to back her at home.

Though other leaders had their own images of the meeting tweeted out, Denzel's photograph - which shows Merkel standing dominantly over a petulant-looking Trump - became the most enduring after it caught the imagination of the web.

An ARD poll on Thursday found that 62 percent of Germans believe refugees without papers should not be allowed in.

The German leader also reiterated that said she is not ready to "give up on G7" but at the same time would seek dialogue with Russian Federation and try to "work very closely" with Japan, Canada, India and China.

Merkel can draw some comfort from the positive reception her compromise got among CDU lawmakers, many of whom had this week voiced at least some support for Seehofer's plan.

A majority of CDU lawmakers backed her, said party sources.

The post on a hoax Twitter account came as Merkel holds tense negotiations with her coalition partners over immigration in a stand-off that could ultimately cost her job.

Other reports by GizPress

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