German Leaders Mull Next Steps in Migration Standoff

Erika Holt
June 22, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted Saturday that migration is "a European challenge that needs a European answer" amid a dispute over the issue inside her government and ahead of a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's ultimatum on migrants but has two weeks to find a solution for influx of migrants ahead of the June 28-29 European Union talks.

Seehofer and Merkel have long had an awkward relationship.

Tuesday's talks at Meseberg castle outside Berlin have a lot riding on them: Merkel's political survival rests on her finding a European solution to prevent another influx of migrants to Germany, while both leaders have staked their reputation on further reworking the eurozone.

Laura Bush, married to the last Republican president before Trump, took the highly unusual step of publishing a Father's Day op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday, in which she said "this zero-tolerance policy is cruel".

Seehofer and Merkel lead parties that have allied with each other for decades and that have formed the basis for successive Merkel governments since she first came to power in 2005.

The split could threaten her three-month-old coalition government and also deal a blow to the EU's Schengen open-border system at a time when divisions in the bloc are deep.

Merkel said the budget would be used to strengthen economic convergence within the euro zone, which was nearly torn apart by a debt crisis that took hold in 2009.

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Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CSU has been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel's liberal stance that allowed a million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015.

She dashed Macron's hopes for a joint eurozone finance minister and budget, mindful of German public fears that their tax money be squandered on what voters see as fiscal irresponsibility in southern European Union states.

According to the newspaper, Seehofer intends to give Merkel two weeks on the solution of common European problem of the issue of refugees.

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party CSU have suffered heavy losses in the country's federal elections previous year, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored record gains and entered the parliament for the first time.

Mrs Merkel's hopes are to see European Union member states agree to a new bloc-wide asylum reform or at least a bilateral solution with some European Union countries.

The item will be part of the agenda of a European summit on June 28.

The row with Bavaria's CSU, which faces a tough election in October, has piled the pressure on her to deliver.

The U.S. president's tweet doubled down on an assertion he made Monday that crime had gone "way up", a claim many disputed by pointing out the country a year ago recorded its lowest crime rate since 1992.

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