Migration has threatened to topple Germany’s government, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stays together. After weeks of tensions over plans to turn away certain migrants at German borders, the big coalition of CDU, CSU, and SPD finally agreed on compromising on the onholding migration discussion. The solution: A migration deal to counter illegal immigration to Germany and introduce stricter asylum policies.
Chancellor Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer agreed to introduce stricter controls of immigration at the German-Austrian border on Thursday. After weeks of toxic discussions, threats which could topple the German government, and a big coalition intrigued by stubbornness, all sides compromised.
Both, Chancellor Merkel and Minister Seehofer achieved to agree on a deal which would counter illegal immigration and introduce stricter asylum policies which shall aim to:
- Accelerate the handling of asylum applications in accordance with the Dublin Regulation which examines the claims of asylum seekers seeking international protection;
- Establish transit centres in police stations instead of Minister Seehofer’s plan to build special transit centres at the German-Austrian border;
- Process arriving migrants at the Munich airport at Germany’s federal police instead of transit accommodation areas.
Furthermore, Seehofer and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz met on Thursday to discuss migration. They clarified their intent to shut down the so-called southern route, stretching from the Mediterranean to northern Europe, to limit the arrival of migrants and refugees. Seehofer also announced his intention to meet with Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to further establish bilateral deals to take back asylum seekers.
After the agreement, SPD leader Andrea Nahles told reporters that all parties agreed to a “package [of measures] for the reorganisation of asylum policy” and that it was a “good solution.”
Also, Seehofer appeared to the press somewhat satisfied with the deal. “You’re looking at a very happy interior minister,” he told reporters.
For Chancellor Merkel, the compromise was not the best solution. However, Merkel urged at her meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Berlin on Thursday that people seeking refuge should be treated humanely and noted that “we must always remember and never forget that this is about human beings”; showcasing that a compromise on migration allows Germany to take away unrest within the asylum seeker and refugee population coming to Germany.
Conversely, the compromise could also help Merkel in negotiating with the EU member states where migrants previously registered or applied for asylum, to take back migrants. Yet, bilateral arrangements are going to be challenging to achieve since Hungary, and the Czech Republic have already shown opposition.