Merkel accepts CSU offer to delay ban on migrants: DPA

Germany's interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has signalled he is open to giving Angela Merkel more time to reach a deal with Germany's European Union partners over an asylum row that has threatened to bring down her government.

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 the complaints from her Bavarian allies CSU over her refugee policy.

But Merkel says that would leave countries at the EU's geographic southern periphery alone to deal with the migrant influx.

However, the compromise will allow people who have already been expelled to be turned back at the borders - with Mr Seehofer, who appeared at a CSU press conference at the same time as Mrs Merkel's CDU one, confirming he meant to give orders to start doing this right away. She said her party will consider the results on July 1 "and decide how to proceed in light of what has been achieved".

But Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, has so far flatly rejected the proposal, claiming that turning aliens away at the border would contravene supposed European Union values and undermine freedom of movement within the bloc. She also acknowledged the difficulty of the task ahead: "I am under pressure now, and those who know Europe know that this is not easy".

Merkel herself is facing a showdown with her own hardline interior minister after his call for turning back undocumented migrants at German borders and speeding up ejections of rejected asylum seekers. As well as destabilizing the German government last week, the migration issue also prompted a nasty public squabble between the French and Italian governments, with Mr. Macron accusing Rome of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

"We are convinced that Germany needs reversal in its asylum policy", said Markus Söder, a member of Seehofer's party and the governor of Bavaria.

"There is a context here of rising criminality, which to a statistical degree is part of the migrant problem", he said, adding that Democrats in the US and Merkel in Germany both "neglected to their peril" the opposition among citizens to illegal immigration and lax border security.

Critics see Seehofer's maneuvering as an attempt to burnish his party's right-wing credentials ahead of Bavarian state elections in October. The CSU lost thousands of voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in federal elections past year, and is fearful of further losses.

End of the road for Merkel?


A split with the CSU, their ally of seven decades, would deprive the CDU of the governing majority it commands in the Bundestag lower house in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD).

Welt daily said "it would be nearly a miracle if she emerges a victor from the next European Union summit".

"I believe it is worthwhile to keep CSU and CDU together".

How did we get here?

That hope, however, is running up against an "axis of the willing" to combat immigration announced last week by Italy's new far-right interior minister and his German and Austrian counterparts.

Signalling that he is leaning towards the latter option, Seehofer wrote in a column in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that "it is essential that the European Union summit takes a decision at the end of June".

With Berlin in the grip of crisis, Mrs Merkel is urgently trying to hold talks with other major European powers to try to broker a deal.

Her approach has the backing of most CDU and SPD lawmakers.

The prospects of Merkel reaching a deal on migration with Conte on Monday would appear slim.

According to the Institute for Human Rights in Berlin, Seehofer's proposals violate Germany's European and human-rights obligations.

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