Tag Archives: Merkel

Angela Merkel warns migration challenge could 'determine Europe's destiny'

Angela Merkel warns migration challenge could 'determine Europe's destiny'The European Union embraced a new hardline agenda to defend its borders against illegal migration last night as Angela Merkel warned that the fate of the bloc depended on addressing the three-year crisis over migration. Europe’s growing crop of populist leaders claimed victory for their “Fortress Europe” agenda which saw the European Council summit in Brussels putting deterrence and the protection of EU borders at the forefront of its migration policy. “Europe has many challenges but migration could end up determining Europe's destiny,” Mrs Merkel told the German parliament before the summit, with her own political future hanging in the balance following a rebellion against her softer migration policies by her Bavarian coalition partners. The draft summit conclusions showed the German leader’s long-standing calls for an inclusive approach to migration playing second fiddle to the need to secure Europe's borders and process illegal migrants off-shore so they could be returned to their countries of origin. In a sign of the high stakes at the table Italy took the highly unusual step of blocking the entire summit conclusions in order to extract concessions on migration. The move forced Jean-Claude Juncker the EU Commission president to cancel a planned press conference.  Senior Brussels sources said that Italy was demanding that the EU agreed that every migrant arriving in Italy was “arriving in Europe” in a bid to force other EU states to share the burden of migration.  Italy was also demanding urgent reforms to the Dublin regulation and a European wide commitment to rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.  “We’re willing to work through the night to get this,” said an Italian source involved in the talks.  Emmanuel Macron the Fench President posted a photograph on Twitter of him and his Italian counterpart working on drafts of the conclusions as all sides worked to broker a late-night compromise.  Sebastian Kurz, the conservative Austrian chancellor who is in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, said the shift to a harder line was a victory for those states who have argued that the EU’s soft approach is creating ‘pull factors’ for migration.   Merkel's migration tensions | Read more “It seems as if today we will manage a shift in migration policy,” he said, adding that being rescued in the Mediterranean “must not automatically become a ticket” to central Europe. “That’s important because we have asked for a systemic change for years. For years we have demanded reductions in the number of people coming to Europe illegally. I think that is possible today.” Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister who put up fences on Hungary’s border with Serbia in 2015 after Mrs Merkel threw open Germany’s border, said the change was a victory for the concerns of Europe’s voters. “The main issue is not migration, the issue is democracy in Europe … it is about what the people believe, what should be done," he said before claiming the people wanted migrants to be sent back to where they came from. He added that the move heralded the start of a “new period when we try to reconstruct the European democracy.” Mr Orban’s claims of a victory for ‘democracy’ will send shudders through liberal Europe which believes that the Hungarian leader is using the consensus for a harder line over migration as a Trojan horse for a broader illiberal agenda. Donald Tusk, the European Council president, warned on the eve of the summit that failure to address the migration question risked handing ammunition to populists and those with “a tendency towards overt authoritarianism” – which was widely taken as a reference to the likes of Mr Orban. But Mr Tusk said that the EU’s measures – which include beefing up Europe’s border force to 10,000, forging return deals with African states and investigating setting up so-called hotspot camps in north Africa – were necessary to avoid something worse. “Some may think I am too tough in my proposals on migration. But trust me, if we don't agree on them, then you will see some really tough proposals from some really tough guys," he said. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said that the measures were not designed to put an the end to the idea of ‘European solutions’ to migration pressures, but to modernise them and enable them to work better. “We all face a simple choice: do we want national solutions or do we believe in European solutions and cooperation? For my part, I will defend European solutions, in cooperation, in the European Union and under Schengen,” he said Italy’s new populist government withheld judgement on the proposals, after a month in which it has refused permission for NGO migrant rescue ships to dock at its ports and demanded EU states share the burden of the 600,000 migrants that have arrived in the last two years. Guiseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, welcomed the proposals and pledges to do more to help Italy, but made clear that his government – which has already catalysed the debate – would continue to push for real outcomes. “We hope these words will be translated into action,” he said. “Italy no longer has a need for words and statements, we need concrete acts.”



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Defiant Merkel backs Europe migrant policy as Bavaria row simmers

Defiant Merkel backs Europe migrant policy as Bavaria row simmersBy Madeline Chambers BERLIN (Reuters) – Migrant policy requires a European solution, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Saturday, ceding no ground in a showdown with her Bavarian allies that threatens her three-month-old coalition government. The row is over Merkel’s rejection of plans by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, from Bavaria, for Germany unilaterally to send back migrants who have registered in other European Union countries. In her weekly podcast, three days before talks between Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, the chancellor hammered home her stance: “This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution.



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Merkel seeks EU migrant talks as German coalition crisis looms: paper

Merkel seeks EU migrant talks as German coalition crisis looms: paperGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to avert a crisis within her coalition on migrant policy, is trying to set up a meeting of some EU states to discuss the issue before a leaders summit on June 28-29, a German newspaper reported on Sunday. Citing government sources from representatives of several EU states, top-selling Bild reported on its website that Merkel wanted to discuss possible solutions with Greece, Italy and Austria. It is also unclear exactly when this special summit would take place,” a member of the Italian government told Bild.



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Macron backs Merkel in German row over migrants

Macron backs Merkel in German row over migrantsFrench President Emmanuel Macron on Friday offered his backing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a bitter row with her interior minister over her liberal immigration policy. “Countries are committed to the paths taken by their heads of state or government,” he told reporters. “Germany also has a head of government,” he said of Merkel, saying it was she who was “responsible before her people and her parliament”.



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In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies: poll

In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies: pollAs Chancellor Angela Merkel fights to save her government in a heated battle over immigration, an opinion poll Friday showed most Germans support the tougher line of her rebel interior minister. The survey found that 62 percent of respondents were in favour of turning back undocumented migrants at the border, in line with the stance of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who is openly challenging Merkel. The survey turns up the pressure on Merkel, who has faced a backlash for allowing into Germany more than one million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.



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In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies: poll

In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies: pollAs Chancellor Angela Merkel fights to save her government in a heated battle over immigration, an opinion poll Friday showed most Germans support the tougher line of her rebel interior minister. The survey found that 62 percent of respondents were in favour of turning back undocumented migrants at the border, in line with the stance of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who is openly challenging Merkel. The survey turns up the pressure on Merkel, who has faced a backlash for allowing into Germany more than one million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.



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Merkel stands firm against Bavarian demands to close borders

Merkel stands firm against Bavarian demands to close bordersBERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains firmly opposed to unilateral moves to turn some refugees back at the border, her spokesman said Friday, warning such action — demanded by conservative allies in her own government — would weaken the European Union.



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Angela Merkel facing battle to save her coalition as immigration row splits Europe 

Angela Merkel facing battle to save her coalition as immigration row splits Europe Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is to hold last-ditch talks to save her coalition government this weekend amid a major European rift over migrant policy. The German chancellor is facing open rebellion from her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, over his plans to turn away migrants at the German border. Mrs Merkel has blocked the measure but Mr Seehofer is threatening to impose it unilaterally if he doesn’t win agreement by Monday – essentially daring the chancellor to sack him. As leader of her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), Mr Seehofer could pull it out of Mrs Merkel’s coalition if he is fired, depriving her of a majority in parliament.  With both sides refusing to back down, German political commentators on Friday warned that the stand-off could potentially bring down the government, and even mean the end of Mrs Merkel’s term as chancellor.  On Friday, French president Emmanuel Macron came out in support of Mrs Merkel. "Countries are committed to the paths taken by their heads of state or government," the French president said, speaking at a press conference in Paris alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.  Mr Macron also spoke out against the proposed hardline "axis" on migration formed this week by the interior ministers of Italy, Germany and Austria. France and Italy rowed this week over the fate of a ship carrying more than 600 migrants that was turned away from Italian ports Credit: Reuters “I don't trust these catchphrases which did not bring us luck in the course of history," he said. But the French president was at also pains to put on a united front with the leader of Italy's new populist government, after a week in which he had clashed over their hardline on immigration Mr Macron and Mr Conte called for the European Union to set up asylum processing centres in African nations which have seen an exodus towards Europe in recent years.  The Aquarius, the ship carrying more then 600 migrants that sparked the row between the two after Italy refused it permission to dock, is now on its way to the Spanish port of Valencia. In Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, the speaker of parliament and Mrs Merkel’s former finance minister, is to mediate at talks this weekend in an attempt to find a compromise. “The end of Merkel’s chancellorship has never been so close,” Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said in an editorial. Mrs Merkel’s 2015 decision to throw open Germany’s borders to migrants has suddenly and dramatically come back to haunt her.  At the heart of the dispute are Mr Seehofer’s plans to turn away migrants who have already registered in another European Union country at Germany’s borders. Under the EU’s Dublin rules, Germany can return migrants to the first EU member state they enter, but only after they apply for asylum in Germany, a time-consuming and expensive process. Mrs Merkel has so far blocked the proposals, arguing it could fatally undermine her efforts to agree a new EU-wide migrant policy at the next European summit in two weeks. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has declared an "axis of the willing" with his hardline counterparts in Italy and Austria  Credit: Getty But her opponents say she is more concerned at being seen to close the borders now after keeping them open during the influx of 2015. Mr Seehofer says Germany needs a solution to the migrant issue now and cannot wait.  But his critics say he is more concerned with grandstanding ahead of Bavarian elections in October, and fending off a challenge from the nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which has campaigned on an anti-migrant platform. The issue is complicated by the German political system. Individual ministers have considerable autonomy in their own departments, which means Mrs Merkel can only block Mr Seehofer from introducing the plans by sacking him. That has left the two sides facing off in a dangerous game of brinkmanship in which both have plenty to lose.  In a development that could prove decisive, Mrs Merkel reportedly won the backing of her party’s MPs at a meeting behind closed doors on Thursday. Mrs Merkel has also won the backing of her main coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), who have denounced Mr Seehofer’s plan. Carsten Schneider, the SPD chief whip, warned that the proposals to turn away migrants at the border could lead to the “end of the European Union”, while Anke Rehlinger, another SPD politician, said it would mean the return of heavily armed border troops and “the end of free Europe as we know it”. But the CSU has rallied as strongly behind Mr Seehofer. “We don’t want to risk losing credibility,” Markus Söder, the regional prime  minister of Bavaria and Mr Seehofer’s chief rival within the party said. And sources within the party told the German press on Friday they were ready to go with the “nuclear option” if Mrs Merkel doesn’t back down.



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Brief panic in Germany as satire site claims Merkel coalition demise

Brief panic in Germany as satire site claims Merkel coalition demiseGermany lurched into a brief panic Friday as several media outlets fell for a satirical tweet that claimed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition had collapsed in a bitter row over immigration. The fake news that rebellious Interior Minister Horst Seehofer would end his Bavarian CSU party’s seven-decade partnership with Merkel’s CDU was described as a “bombshell” by the apparently verified Twitter account. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, receiving live updates during a press conference, was able to quickly shoot down the claim — but not before it had been cited as breaking news on the website of top-selling Bild tabloid and other media.



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Merkel: G7 agree on commitment to rules-based trade

Merkel: G7 agree on commitment to rules-based tradeGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that G7 leaders had agreed on the wording of a common statement at their ongoing summit which would include a commitment to a “rules-based” trade framework. “By any reckoning we will have a final communique,” Merkel told journalists on the final day of the summit in Canada, which has been held amid anger towards the US for imposing tariffs on allies, circumventing the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the process. The German leader said there was “a common conviction” about the need for changes to the WTO, although it was not immediately clear if there would a clear call for reform in the final statement.



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