stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
In Germany, a different kind of migrant crisis
space
Merkel's coalition teeters as key partner pushes for strict border controls
space
By ERIC REGULY
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – Page A1

ROME -- The new refugee crisis is stretching the frayed ties that bind the European Union and may ultimately cost German Chancellor Angela Merkel her government.

Over the weekend and into Monday, Ms. Merkel scrambled to broker a short-term peace agreement with her coalition government's partner in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which triggered the biggest threat to her reign since the start of her premiership 13 years ago.

CSU Leader Horst Seehofer wants to close Germany's borders to any asylum seekers already registered in other EU countries and, as Germany's interior minister, has executive power to do so. Ms. Merkel, who opened Germany's borders to more than one million refugees in 2015 and 2016, many of them fleeing the Syrian civil war, opposes the idea.

If Mr. Seehofer goes ahead, Ms.

Merkel may have no choice but to fire him and bring in a more pliable minister. If she did, her three-party coalition government may disintegrate, triggering a new election and possibly a leadership race in Ms. Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

By late Monday, it appeared that Ms. Merkel has bought some time by convincing Mr. Seehofer to wait until the EU summit at the end of the month before making his final decision on whether to close Germany's borders. By then, Ms. Merkel aims to have the outline of a new EU-wide asylum system in place or, failing that, a series of bilateral deals with the countries on the front lines of the migration crisis - Italy, Greece and Spain. Her first bilateral meeting on Monday was with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose populist, anti-migrant government has shut Italy's ports to migrant ships.

In a Monday column in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr. Seehofer agreed that an EU solution was preferable but that "I must have the right to turn people away" if no solution is found. He said the EU summit must "guarantee an effective protection of the external borders and a fair distribution of residency rights, as well as a speedy return of people without residency rights."

Ms. Merkel's gambit may not work. Two weeks is not a lot of time to negotiate a single deal, let alone an EU-wide one. The EU has struggled for years to implement a common migration policy and has failed. "I'm of the view that it will be very hard to achieve a European solution in the short- to medium-term," Stephan Mayer, a top CSU parliamentarian, told German radio on Monday.

In the absence of an EU solution, it is the national governments that are implementing their own harsh migration policies. No one more than Ms. Merkel understands the risk to the European project of a piecemeal approach. "I see [migration] as one of the most decisive issues in holding Europe together," she said over the weekend in her weekly podcast.

In some countries, the politicians advocating anti-migrant positions are rising at the expense of the centrist parties and the EU. The current star among the anti-migrant crowd is Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, interior minister in charge of migration policy and leader of the xenophobic League party. In May, the far-right party formed a coalition government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

Mr. Salvini, the dominant force in the populist government, even though he is not Prime Minister, used a Donald Trump-inspired "Italians first" message to propel himself to fame and power in a country that has absorbed more than 600,000 undocumented or illegal migrants in recent years.

Last week, Mr. Salvini, in an unprecedented move, stopped a rescue ship laden with more than 600 African asylum seekers from docking in an Italian port. The ship was stranded at sea for several days as it ran short of provisions. A humanitarian catastrophe was avoided when the new Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, allowed the ship to tie up in Valencia. Since then, Mr.

Salvini has told two other rescue ships that they are not welcome in Italian ports.

It is not known whether Ms. Merkel can strike a migrant deal that would satisfy Mr.

Salvini, Mr. Seehofer, her own party and the EU policy makers.

Mr. Salvini wants no more migrants, arguing that burden on the Italian state is excessive and disproportionately large among EU countries. Ms. Seehofer wants asylum seekers in Germany registered elsewhere in the EU (such as Italy, Greece and Spain) to be returned to the countries where they landed, a scenario that Mr. Salvini could never accept. Italy and the EU want an EU-wide deal that would see its migrants dispersed across the bloc. But some countries, notably Poland and Hungary, are already furious that the EU is trying to force them to take migrants they do not want.

Caught in the middle is Ms. Merkel. She does not want to stop migration, although certainly wants it controlled, given the political hammering she took after she opened Germany's borders to the Syrian refugees in 2015. As the champion of the European integration project, her goal is to keep the Schengen system of internal EU borders open. If the borders are closed, she fears that an EU already buffeted by nationalist forces could reach a breaking point.

On Monday, she told reporters that "the European project is at risk."

Francesco Galietti, chief executive of Policy Sonar, a political consultancy in Rome, doesn't see how Ms. Merkel can pull off an easy win on the migration front, given the wildly divergent views across the EU.

"Merkel has a lot to lose; Italy does not," he said. "For Italians, Schengen is already mostly dead because France and Austria have closed their borders to migrants coming from Italy."

In the meantime, the pressure on Ms.

Merkel is proving relentless. At stake is not only her own government, but her legacy as a uniting force. Might the woman who prevented the EU and the euro zone from shattering at the height of the European debt crisis in 2011and 2012 see the migration crisis pull the EU apart? She might, much to the delight of the anti-migrant populists not just in the EU, but also in the United States, chief among them Mr. Trump.

In a Monday tweet, Mr. Trump, himself under pressure for the policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, attacked Ms. Merkel and her migration position. He said "the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition" and that "crime is way up" because of the wave of migrant arrivals.

Crime, in fact, is at the lowest level since 1992 in Germany. But never mind. Ms. Merkel has better things to worry about than Mr. Trump's tweets. The EU is on the cliff edge once again and she needs to figure out a rescue plan, fast.

Associated Graphic

Migrant children are pictured at a Tornillo, Tex., detention centre near the Mexican border on Monday. U.S. President Donald Trump has defended his hard-line approach on immigration, saying Germany and Europe's political crisis is a cautionary tale for U.S. lawmakers.

MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Asylum seekers sit next to bodies of dead African migrants on a ship off the Libyan coast on Monday.

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Roy_MacGregor Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page