Migration row continues to overshadow Bundestag debates

DPA/The Local
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Migration row continues to overshadow Bundestag debates
Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer in the Bundestag on Thursday. Photo: DPA

The migration row that threatened to sink Germany’s government continued to overshadow debates in the Bundestag as CSU leader Horst Seehofer said responsibility for getting EU countries to cooperate lies with the chancellor.


During a budget debate on Thursday, discussion moved to the migrant policy issue that has divided the government.

Federal Interior Minister Seehofer of the Christian Social Union (CSU) said he believes ultimate responsibility for securing agreements with EU countries to transfer asylum seekers who have previously registered in other countries lies with Christian Democratic (CDU) Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I assume that because of the complexity and the European dimension, in my estimation in the end, the key points of this agreement must be fixed by the heads of government," said Seehofer.

Before his meeting with the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna later on Thursday, Seehofer dampened expectations.

He emphasised that in the first round of talks on the asylum issue there would certainly be "no deals". Similarly, in talks with the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and with Italy's Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini on Wednesday, he said it was more about informing the "partners" and exploring how agreements could be reached.

According to information from coalition circles, Germany wants to reach agreements with Italy, Spain, Hungary and other EU states to create "transit centres" and send back asylum seekers and migrants to the nation where they first registered.

So far only Greece and Spain have signaled readiness.

Meanwhile, Greens' interior spokeswoman Irene Mihalic launched an attack on the government and said the latest deal was driven by a fear of the far-right.

She accused the government of wanting to "seal off" Germany. Anyone who manages to get to Germany "is locked in a camp", she said.

"All this is driven by fear of party-political right-wing extremism," said Mihalic, who pointed in the direction of the AfD group. She added: "But you do not fight the far-right spirit by breathing it yourself."

The SPD has insisted that the "transit centres" agreed by the CDU and CSU should not be "closed camps" at the border. Seehofer said during the budget debate in the Bundestag: "There are no closed institutions."

The Dublin Regulation states that the asylum procedure will take place in the country where the migrant first registers.

Exceptions exist when family members already live in another EU country.



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