Merkel faces 2-week ultimatum to secure asylum deal

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies were expected Monday to decide how far to push in a dispute with the German leader over migration, a conflict that has escalated into a threat to her government.

The Minister of internal Affairs of Germany and Chairman of the Bavarian Christian social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer intends to issue an ultimatum to Chancellor Angela Merkel on the issue of illegal migrants.

There is even talk that the 70-year-old conservative alliance between the CSU and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) could fall apart.

NELSON: The interior minister and his party, which is facing a major challenge from far-right populists in upcoming regional elections, say they will unilaterally prevent migrants from crossing Bavaria's global borders if Berlin doesn't act.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who is also interior minister, has drawn up a plan under which Germany would turn away migrants who have already registered in other European Union states.

Seehofer threatened Monday to turn back migrants if the German leader doesn't secure a deal within two weeks.

While several high-profile crimes by migrants have fueled public anger in Germany, which has admitted more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, the country's crime rate is at its lowest since 1992, according to official figures released last month. But "we want finally to have a sustainable solution for turning back refugees at our borders".


Seehofer's "masterplan" on immigration was meant to be the showpiece of the CSU's tough stance against new arrivals. The move would mean "the majority of asylum seekers who come to Europe make their way to Germany". His party holds a leadership meeting Monday which could authorize Seehofer to push through his demand. She noted that formulating a joint European Union asylum policy was hard.

Some 49% of voters surveyed last week by pollsters Civey for Die Welt newspaper said they either "definitely" or "sooner" place trust in Seehofer to solve the perceived asylum crisis compared with 32% who said Merkel has the right approach.

The Meseberg declaration also called for creating "a European Asylum Office" which would be responsible of asylum procedures at external borders and help harmonizing asylum practices among the member states.

How it would be funded was also up for discussion with other eurozone members, said Merkel, suggesting that it could involve regular transfers made by individual countries or a tax on financial transactions.

In Germany, voters handed Merkel her poorest score in September's elections while giving seats for the first time to the far-right anti-Islam AfD.

In 2015, Merkel famously said Germany was open to people fleeing wars and looking for better lives.

On Tuesday, she's meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has expressed support for Merkel's position on finding a European solution to the migration issue.


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