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Merkel downplays prospect of Brussels breakthrough on migration

25 June 2018

Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) on Monday gave Merkel two weeks to get a deal with European allies after Germany's coalition government nearly cracked apart as Merkel's Christian Democrats and their sister party rowed over immigration. Schaeuble said Merkel would have no choice but to fire Seehofer if he defied her orders.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron on euro zone reforms does not violate the coalition agreement, as some Bavarian conservatives have claimed, a top aide to the German leader said. There have been 41,000 sea arrivals so far this year, data shows. Four eastern European Union countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - refused to attend and reject taking in migrants in general.

Merkel also got Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to attend the mini-summit by telling him pre-written conclusions had been withdrawn, Italian officials said. This would greatly reduce the pressure on Italy.

Unable to agree, they have become more restrictive on asylum and tightened their external borders to let fewer people in. Italy, a front-line state to asylum seekers and migrants coming from northern Africa, is more focused on the initial arrivals and on avoiding what it says is an unfair burden that has been placed on it by countries to its north.

"A European solution means throwing more German money at things". Italy allowed one of its own coastguard boats to dock in Sicily on Wednesday carrying more than 500 rescued people.

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Migration has decided elections across the bloc from Italy to Hungary, with voters favoring those taking a tougher stance.

Horst Seehofer, CSU leader and Germany's interior minister, wants to turn away migrants who have already registered in other European Union states but Merkel opposes any unilateral move to reverse her 2015 open-door policy and undermine her authority.

Migrants mostly stay in arrival countries like Greece and Italy or wealthy Germany where they try start a new life. Now backed by Austria, they want to end any further discussion on rules for sharing them out across the bloc.

The bloc has been unable to break the deadlock, the bad blood spilling over to other areas of their cooperation, including crucial talks on the bloc's next seven-year budget from 2021.

The Social Democrats, who also share power with Merkel's conservative bloc - comprising the CSU and her own Christian Democrats (CDU) - said they were ready for a new election.

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National border controls would undermine the EU's system of free travel.

The withdrawn declaration had been drafted ahead of an emergency meeting of 10 European Union leaders set for Sunday in Brussels, with Germany and France hoping for a swift deal that could be approved at a full European Union summit at the end of next week.

He expressed optimism that Merkel would manage to seal deals with European partner countries to take back refugees. Other EU countries such as Italy are pressing an anti-migrant approach.

A week ago, Spain took in 630 migrants from the French aid ship Aquarius after Malta and Italy, which were closer, refused to grant the ship access to their ports.

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Merkel downplays prospect of Brussels breakthrough on migration