Compromise reached in German government migration stand-off

Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Seehofer had campaigned for a direct rejection at the border to prevent asylum seekers from moving from one EU country to another, while Merkel had rejected it strictly and called for a European-coordinated solution.

Seehofer traveled to Berlin on Monday after offering to resign during a meeting of his Christian Social Union party on Sunday night.

Vienna's reaction raised the spectre of a domino effect in Europe, with member states taking increasingly restrictive measures to shut out refugees.

Seehofer, whose party faces a state election in the fall, has been threatening to turn away migrants at Germany's border who have already been rejected by the country or who have registered for asylum elsewhere in the EU. They would either be sent back to European Union countries that previously registered them or, in case arrival countries reject this, be sent back to Austria, pending a now questionable agreement with Vienna.

"As such the spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved and at the same time an important step to order and control secondary migration and that's why I think that we have found a good compromise after tough negotiations and hard days".

Merkel's asylum pact with her hardline Bavarian CSU allies would set up a "new border regime" on the frontier with Austria.

In particular, she still has to work with CSU leader and German Interior Minister Seehofer, with whom she has had several showdowns on different aspects of migrant policy.

The brinkmanship and party leader Seehofer's on-again, off-again threat to quit make the CSU "the biggest loser in this home-made drama" said Frauke Krumbmueller, an analyst at political-risk consultancy OpenCitiz.

"I'm happy we were able to achieve this compromise, and it shows that it pays off to fight for your convictions", Mr Seehofer said. In the first four months of 2018, asylum seeker numbers entering Germany fell by 20%, although Germany remains the ultimate preferred destination within the EU.

In comments to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper ahead of Monday's renewed talks with Merkel, Seehofer complained he was in an "inconceivable" situation.

It drew immediate fire from critics, such us Bernd Riexinger of the opposition far-left Die Linke party, who on Twitter slammed the plan for "mass internment camps" and judged that "humanity got lost along the way".

The party is keen to be seen as tough on migration, a concern among many voters, and to stop the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

So far, however, the gambit has played poorly in polls and Germans seem to be losing their patience.

"We can manage", she said famously in 2015, inspiring many to donate food, clothes and their time to help. "I hope that the CSU will receive their just deserts for their actions".

Before this policy is adopted, it will require the consent of the Social Democrats (SPD).

"We are willing to keep on working and to develop a final opinion", said the SPD leader and faction head, Andrea Nahles.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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