Merkel avoids government collapse over immigration but faces deadline

GETTYCracks are forming in Germny's coaltion government following a continued row over immigration

Her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has been calling for Germany to turn back migrants at the border who have previously applied for asylum or registered as asylum-seekers in other European countries.

Monday is "destiny day for Angela Merkel".

Malta also turned the vessel away, sparking a major European Union row until Spain agreed to take in the new arrivals. The CSU lost thousands of voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in federal elections past year, and is fearful of further losses.

"By granting Merkel her two weeks, the CSU is ostensibly making effective bilateral deals their condition for staying in the grand coalition", said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group.

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.

For all the noise, the CSU knows that there is more at stake.

"We just want to finally have a sustainable solution to send refugees back to the borders".

Ahead of the CSU meeting, Bavaria's state premier Markus Soeder said the CSU wanted to back Seehofer's plan, but leave it up to the interior minister to decide how to implement it.

"A country located at the heart of Europe" can not just reject asylum seekers at its borders in a unilateral move as it would provoke "a negative domino effect", Merkel warned as she explained that she plans to reach bilateral agreements with other European Union states before toughening Germany's migration policy.

Signalling that he is leaning towards the latter option, Seehofer wrote in a column in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that "it is essential that the European Union summit takes a decision at the end of June".

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Whichever option he chooses, the ball will land in Merkel's court.

"The CDU and the CSU have the common goal of better organising and steering immigration into our country and significantly reducing the number of people entering this country", she said.

Central and eastern European Union nations such as Hungary and Poland have either refused outright or resisted taking in refugees under an European Union quota system that has essentially floundered.

However it ends, the spat has laid bare the limits of Merkel's authority in a fractious government that took office in March after almost six months of postelection haggling.

Despite howls of protests from aid groups and even the United Nations, Rome has banned rescue vessels carrying migrants from docking.

The issue has come to a head in the last week with a new Italian government refusing to let a ship with hundreds of migrants dock at its ports.

Merkel's open-door migrant policy is widely blamed for the rise of the right-wing AfD, now the main opposition party in Germany's federal parliament.

A senior German government official said that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his French counterpart resumed negotiations on euro zone reforms on Tuesday morning after narrowing differences in talks over the weekend.

Merkel said she would first present the results of the talks to her own party on July 1 and then discuss them with her Bavarian allies.

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