Germany to refuse migrants from July if no European deal found: minister


Hardliners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to tighten asylum rules or risk pitching Germany into a political crisis that would also rattle Europe.

Federal interior ministry data shows the number of new arrivals in Germany seeking asylum fell 33 percent on the year to 186,000 in 2017, down from 280,000 the previous year and 890,000 in 2015, at the peak of the migrant crisis.

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

The disagreement has opened up a serious rift between Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats and Mr Seehofer's Bavarian CSU party - two parties that have been closely aligned since the end of the World War Two. Merkel said she will have to discuss "what is important for others; I can't say today what that is".

Seehofer's "migration master plan", which Merkel last week refused to endorse, would see asylum seekers arriving at Germany's borders turned away if they have no identification papers, have already had an asylum claim rejected in Germany, or are already registered in another country in the EU - proposals that rights group say contravene European and global agreements.

Merkel quickly made clear that she disagreed. The CSU fears electoral disaster in upcoming regional elections. Still, polls suggest that its absolute majority in the Bavarian state legislature is in danger in the October 14 state election - and it is being challenged on the right by the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party.

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Merkel, who has led Europe's largest economy since 2005, was widely seen as unassailable in the run-up to elections last September.

Her position as chancellor is now in question, but it remains unclear precisely how the situation will develop.

For Merkel, in power for over 12 years, the stakes could not be higher as she leads an uneasy coalition government with a narrow majority that took half a year to cobble together.

How did we get here?

"But the expectation of the citizens towards the interior minister is that he should act".

The German chancellor wants the European Union to give states more power to turn away refugees to stop Germany being the only one with the policy.

Over the weekend Seehofer had signalled he would hold off on implementing the measure until after an European Union summit on migration and asylum policy that is scheduled for the end of the month.

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Merkel is due to hold a press conference on Monday.

Her approach has the backing of most CDU and SPD lawmakers. "We want a national solution if a European one is not found", Seehofer said, adding that "the CDU or at least its leaders do not want" it. "If we want to defend our liberal democracy, we need more Europe, not less". CSU leaders had previously been dismissive of her chances to reach agreement there, given that the issue has bedeviled the continent for the past three years, with no resolution in sight.

The prospects of Merkel reaching a deal on migration with Conte on Monday would appear slim. Seehofer has said these migrants should be turned away at the German border whereas Merkel has said this can only happen with the agreement of the relevant European Union states.

Horst Seehofer and Angela Merkel.

Publication of this so-called masterplan has been postponed, but local media reports that the interior minister's document has the potential to further strain relations between the Union parties, containing anti-mass migration proposals such as slashing asylum seekers' cash payments and replacing them nearly entirely with benefits in kind.

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