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France, Germany agree to set up eurozone budget: Merkel

20 Juin 2018

Merkel now faces a risky mutiny from her hardline Bavarian Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has vowed to defy her and order police to shut German borders to most asylum seekers by early July absent an European Union accord.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was "not the American president's role to speculate - as he did yesterday - that the German people would march towards the chancellery to remove Mrs Merkel". He called it a "big mistake" for Europe to admit large numbers of migrants.

Amid a flurry of national and global criticism for separating children from parents who cross the U.S. -Mexico border illegally, Trump on Monday sought to justify the harsh methods by pointing to problems with migration in Europe. "Crime in Germany is way up".

The EU has struggled with the surge of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere, fleeing war and seeking economic stability.

Matteo Salvini, interior minister in the anti-establishment government that took office this month in Rome, has adopted a policy of blocking foreign humanitarian boats from Italian ports, which has triggered heated exchanges with France and the Netherlands. He said all 28 European Union member states had to be involved. "He can fix it tomorrow if he wants to, and if he doesn't want to, he should own up to the fact that he's doing it", Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a prepared statement.

In an unprecedented split between the CDU and CSU, Seehofer has openly defied Merkel with a demand to allow border police to turn back migrants who lack valid identity papers or are already registered in another European Union country.

Striking a conciliatory tone in a guest column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine paper, Seehofer said the cohesion of Europe and Germany was at stake. Merkel must now attempt to build a solution with European Union partners by the beginning of July.

Mr. Seehofer originally threatened to implement his border plan on Monday, but said he would wait now until the June 28 summit to see if Ms. Merkel can get agreement on a European plan for handling immigrants.

The question of how many migrants the bloc can absorb came back to the fore strongly when last week Italy and Malta both turned back a rescue vessel carrying 630 refugees, which was eventually accepted by Spain.

By contrast, Merkel has warned of a resulting domino effect as Germany's neighbors rush to shutter their internal Schengen borders and is calling for a joint European solution to the "refugee crisis" to be reached within the next two weeks.

The chancellor and her Christian Democrats pledged in the agreement defining the terms of their government that 2015 would remain an exception that was not to be repeated.

Another poll released Friday found that 66 percent of respondents are in favor of a European solution to the refugee issue, promoted by Chancellor Merkel. Seehofer asked, what's the point of an order barring someone's entry into Germany if that person learns there are no consequences?

"I'm not aware of the report that you're referencing, but I'd be happy to check into it and circle back with you", she said.

"Our colleagues consider the latter option very unlikely and see a further muddling through with no clear victor but a substantially damaged Merkel as the most likely outcome".

The EASO said in an annual report Monday that just over 728,000 application requests were made for global protection in 2017, compared to nearly 1.3 million applications the previous year. It says around 30 percent of the applicants are from conflict-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

France, Germany agree to set up eurozone budget: Merkel