Merkel coalition at risk as talks on refugee policy falter


"In our view, we need an "axis of the willing" in the fight against illegal migration," Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said after meeting with Horst Seehofer, Germany's interior minister in Berlin. While it fits in with the idea that asylum seekers should not "shop" for the country that gives it the best welcome and benefits, Merkel has feared that copycat laws would follow across Europe, as one country after another would close its borders to avoid becoming the receptacle for all of the continent's undocumented migrants.

In particular, Merkel objects to a plan which would allow authorities to reject migrants who reach German borders, drawn by the country's prosperity and stability, if they have already registered in other European Union states to the south.

Ms. Merkel's weekend decision to veto a plan by her interior minister aimed at controlling and reducing illegal migration-and the minister's refusal to back down-has shattered an uneasy truce between conservative backers and opponents of her liberal asylum policy.

Angela Merkel was facing a possible government crisis on Tuesday as a deep rift opened with one of her coalition partners over migrant policy.

"We must decide who comes to Europe, not the smugglers", said Kurz, who is due to meet with Seehofer on Wednesday.

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Austria, a major transit nation on the migrants' route, and Italy rejected the argument this week, however, saying they supported Mr. Seehofer's initiative.

"Italy is going further than other states: migrants will not be accepted in the ports any more".

Merkel's party signaled Thursday that they may be edging toward a solution, saying in a statement that people whose asylum applications have already been rejected by Germany should be turned away if they try to re-enter.

"The prime minister said nothing he hasn't said before-both in public, and in private conversations with the president", Trudeau's office announced in a statement, according to Reuters.

That would be an affront to Merkel and could force her to fire Seehofer or lead to her Christian Democrats (CDU) breaking off its cooperation with the CSU in a parliamentary bloc, an arrangement in effect since 1949. But Seehofer is reported to have told her that as the European Union had failed to forge a common policy since the refugee crisis erupted three summers ago, it was hardly credible to think it would succeed by the end of the month.

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Mrs Merkel has held emergency talks with her Christian Democrat (CDU) MPs.

Merkel's CDU and the more conservative CSU have for decades been sister parties that form a single parliamentary faction.

Despite the number of migrants effectively reaching the European Union through Albania is low, it has been surging in the last months.

Merkel said that "taking it back by tweet was of course sobering and also a little depressing".

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