Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted a two-week deadline to win agreement on tougher migration policy, a concession to her Bavarian coalition partner that eases an immediate standoff without removing the threat of further government tension down the road.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who heads Bavaria’s Christian Social Union party, insists the chancellor reach a deal by the end of June with EU governments facilitating the return of migrants to those countries where they were first registered.
Merkel will now attempt to forge a deal by an EU summit on June 28-29, and will report back to her Christian Democratic Union on July 1.
“Whoever knows Europe, realises this is no easy task,” Merkel said in Berlin. But “the European project is at risk,” and “we have a particular responsibility,” she said.
Seehofer defied the chancellor with plans to order migrants turned away from Germany’s borders as soon as Monday. In accepting the compromise, Merkel looks to be having a last throw of the dice to avert unilateral action by Germany that she argues would risk a “domino effect,” collapsing the entire EU asylum process and unravel the bloc’s already frayed unity.
Seehofer’s party met in Munich to affirm its backing for his so-called migration masterplan comprising 63 measures, the most contentious of which is to start turning migrants away at the border.