German Government stabilises after Merkel strikes deal with Interior Minister

3 July 2018

German Government stabilises after Merkel strikes deal with Interior Minister

Chancellor Angela Merkel has reached an agreement with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, after Mr Seehofer threatened to resign on Sunday over the German Government’s immigration policy.

The German Government is a coalition currently comprising the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), led by Ms Merkel, the Christian Social Union of Bavarian (CSU), led by Mr Seehofer, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Mr Seehofer’s CSU provides essential support to Ms Merkel’s CDU, and the parties have been allied since 1949.

After five hours of talks, Mr Seehofer told reporters that he and Ms Merkel had reached an agreement, and that he would stay in his post as Interior Minister.

“After intensive discussions between the CDU and CSU we have reached an agreement on how we can in future prevent illegal immigration on the border between Germany and Austria,” Mr Seehofer said.

The agreement repairs relations between the parties, and will keep Ms Merkel in office.

The parties have been in dispute since Ms Merkel’s 2015 decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing from the Middle East and Africa, which fuelled the rise of anti-immigration parties across the European Union (EU).

Under the new agreement, asylum seekers who have already applied for asylum in other EU countries will be held in transit centres on the border, while Germany negotiates for their return. These transit zones will regarded for immigration purposes as not being in Germany, making deportation easier.

The compromise gives Mr Seehofer some of the tighter immigration controls he demanded, while allowing Ms Merkel to say that German continues to adhere to EU requirements and uphold freedom of movement.

“The spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved, and at the same time an important step to order [has been taken],” Ms Merkel said.