Europe needs a common solution to its ongoing migration crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday, as her governing conservative coalition struggles to reconcile internal differences on refugee policy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Friday, June 15, 2018.
Germany's interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has signalled he is open to giving Angela Merkel more time to reach a deal with Germany's European Union partners over an asylum row that has threatened to bring down her government.
He now wants to turn away at the border new arrivals who have previously been registered in another European Union country - often their first port of call, Italy or Greece.
Merkel was reportedly planning to contact all her European Union counterparts over the next few days in the hope of striking a series of bilateral deals, ahead of a crucial European Union summit at the end of June at which she hopes to come to an agreement to end the impasse.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the CDU headquarters on September 25, 2017.
Both party leaders are expected to address the media on Monday afternoon.
The CSU's Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder said that the ongoing "asylum tourism" meant that, as a government, "we're nearing the endgame when it comes to our credibility".
Popular misgivings over the massive migrant influx have given populist and anti-immigration forces a boost across several European nations, including Italy and Austria where far-right parties are now sharing power.
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A delay in enacting the new rules would give Merkel some time to secure bilateral deals with Italy, Greece and Bulgaria - the European Union countries where many refugees first land - requiring them to take back some asylum-seekers.
Federal Interior Ministry data shows the number of new arrivals in Germany seeking asylum fell 33 percent on the year to 186,000 in 2017, down from 280,000 the previous year and 890,000 in 2015, at the peak of the migrant crisis. They include a 2016 Christmas market attack by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker and the recent rape-murder of a teenage girl allegedly by an Iraqi.
The CSU faces a crucial state election in its home of Bavaria in October, and its hardline stance has widely been interpreted as an electioneering tactic as it attempts to claw back voters lost to the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland party. "We finally want to have a solution for the return of refugees at our borders which is fit for the future", he added.
The European Commission said on Monday it was confident that EU leaders could agree at a summit next week on handling migrants and refugees, but some diplomats were much less optimistic.
"The situation is serious but still solvable", he wrote.
An act of rebellion from Seehofer could force Merkel to sack him, which "would be the end of the government and the alliance between CDU and CSU", an unnamed CDU source told Bild.
The president pinned Germany's rising crime rate on the country's failed immigration policies, calling it a mistake for the EU to admit millions of people who have "strongly and violently" changed the European culture.
Under what is known as the Schengen Agreement, most countries in the bloc allow foreigners who enter one member state to cross into others without showing their passports or clearing customs.