Merkel secures deal with 14 EU nations on migrants: report

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly secured agreements with 14 European Union countries to rapidly return some asylum seekers as she seeks to end a schism in her government over migration policy.

Ms Merkel also said she wants to establish “anchor centres” to process migrants at Germany’s borders, the dpa news agency reported.

The announcements came in a letter Ms Merkel wrote to leaders of her Christian Democratic Union’s Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), as well as to her junior coalition government partner, the Social Democrats, after she attended a two-day EU summit in Brussels.

Ms Merkel is seeking to end a three-week stand-off with her hard-line interior minister Horst Seehofer, who heads the CSU.

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel came away from an EU summit with agreements from Greece and Spain on migrants (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Ms Merkel has rejected that approach, instead insisting on a European-wide solution to migration issues to preserve EU unity. The dispute has raised the possibility of an end to Germany’s decades-old conservative alliance between the CSU and Ms Merkel’s CDU if Mr Seehofer goes ahead with the unilateral move, which could bring down her government.

Both the CDU and the CSU are holding separate meetings on Sunday to discuss Ms Merkel’s latest efforts on migration and plot their next steps.

Ms Merkel on Friday came away from an EU summit with agreements from Greece and Spain to take back migrants previously registered in those countries, and an overall agreement by the 28-nation bloc to ease the pressures of migration into Europe.

Migrants at sea
At the EU summit last week, there was an overall agreement on measures to ease the pressures of migration into Europe(AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

The countries include Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which have all been harsh critics of Ms Merkel’s welcoming stance to migrants, as well as Belgium, France, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

In addition, the chancellor threw her support behind establishing large collection centres in Germany for migrants as their cases are processed.

Dpa reported the centres would be used for migrants who attempt to bypass border controls and for those whose cases do not fall under bilateral return agreements.

Whether the combination of the bilateral measures and EU agreement is enough to placate the CSU is not yet clear.

Top CSU politician Markus Soeder, Bavaria’s governor, on Saturday praised the EU agreement as more than his party had expected, but at the same time suggested that it left open the possibility of unilateral national measures as well.

Germany Politics
Angela Merkel, left, and her interior minister Horst Seehofer have been split on migration policy (Kay Nietfeld//dpa via AP)

Meanwhile in neighbouring Austria, chancellor Sebastian Kurz again urged a European solution to migration, warning in the Bild newspaper that if the southern German region of Bavaria undertook unilateral measures it would create a “domino effect” as Austria and other EU nations then closed their borders one-by-one.

“Our goal remains a joint European solution with orderly protection of the exterior borders, and centres in third countries,” he said.

“That way we can also preserve a Europe without internal borders.”

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