Macron backs Merkel in German row over migrants

Kabinettssitzung

Merkel objects to the part of the plan which allows German authorities to reject migrants who reach its borders, drawn by Germany's vaunted prosperity and stability, after having previously registered in other European Union states to the south.

For decades the CSU - the Bavarian sister party of the CDU - has been in alliance with Mrs Merkel's conservatives.

For Seehofer, adopting a strong stance on migration is politically crucial as he and the CSU gear up for state elections in Bavaria set for October 14. That would be a massive political quake, and its consequences would last longer than the hastily-arranged election that would have to follow. They want to show that y, and not Brussels, control national times and borders. So what are the likely scenarios in the present crisis? His plan would allow police to turn away migrants who have already sought asylum in another European Union nation.

Migrant numbers have declined steeply in the past two years, but Germany is still registering about 11,000 new asylum-seekers per month. For her, the imperative is to buy time until that summit - if all goes well, she can preserve global agreements while still keeping the right of her own coalition happy.

The showdown with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) is over his "Masterplan for Migration", a blueprint in which he wants to show voters a new tough line before a hard Bavarian election in October.

But this move would only trigger a new crisis, because Merkel as chancellor has the ultimate power to determine the government's policy guidelines.


Addressing her party's annual Economic Council Conference in Berlin, Merkel endorsed the argument that the traditional indicator of the trade balance reflects trade in goods but not in services and, therefore, is outdated.

In a sign of the frayed nerves, Germany's political and media world lurched into a brief panic Friday as several media outlets fell for a hoax tweet claiming Seehofer's CSU was quitting the coalition. This is essentially unthinkable in the context of their historical alliance - but can't be ruled out now.

He has now started to draw support for his ideas from Ms Merkel's own party, as well as from other countries. In fact, as it stands the SPD votes could be the most reliable for Merkel.

That decision, for which she was praised and condemned in equal measure, has continued to gnaw at the stability of German politics and is blamed for helping the rightwing populist anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) into the Bundestag.

Seehofer was quoted Friday as telling the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that it was Merkel's CDU "that brought about the division of Europe with the refugee decision in 2015".

Christian von Stetten, a senior CDU lawmaker, drew applause from party colleagues at a closed-door session of the parties' joint parliamentary group on Tuesday when he backed Mr. Seehofer by saying he would accept no watering down of the minister's plan.

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