Austria ready to act at borders if Germany moves on migrants

Austria ready to act at borders if Germany moves on migrants

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has dropped his threat to resign after a compromise was reached in a migration dispute that threatened Merkel's government.

"After a tough struggle and some hard days, we've found a really good compromise", said Merkel, who heads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The deal, partly agreed to by Merkel to avoid divisions in her party, still must pass a series of approvals - from the Social Democrats, the other part of Merkel's coalition.

It was also about whether there was in fact a wider European "we" that could be borderless when it came to movement, multilateral when it came to solutions and liberal when it came to ideals such as the right to seek asylum, equality under the law and individualised treatment.

Seehofer, who has demanded that Merkel toughen her open-doors refugee policy, told colleagues on Sunday that in spite of the measures agreed with European Union leaders, he saw no alternative to turning some migrants back at the border.

Alternatively it could break up the two parties' decades-long partnership, depriving Merkel of her majority in parliament and pitching Germany into uncharted political waters.

The proposal could also shift the political crisis south to Austria, where the government said it could take its own measures to protect its borders.

After half a year of coalition building, Seehofer, having been ousted by ambitious rival Markus Soeder as Bavarian state premier, returned to Berlin, where he previously held ministerial posts, to rejoin Merkel's cabinet.

The two agreed to set up three transit centers for asylum seekers on the border with Austria, confining them there as their cases are quickly processed.

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The Social Democrats, who rejected a similar plan three years ago, withheld their immediate consent and European Union states must also agree to take migrants back.

Ms Merkel's new position immediately drew criticism from those on the left.

As he entered a CDU crisis meeting Monday, party deputy leader Armin Laschet insisted that the sister parties "want to hold onto" their alliance.

Polls indicate the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), would be among the biggest winners, an unpalatable outcome for Merkel and all other parties.

Knaus, director of the thinktank ESM, said the deal struck by the German government could have the unintended effect of increasing migration into Germany, if for example the Greek government used the new agreement to unite families with people who had already arrived in Germany, while in return taking back some asylum seekers who have been finger-printed in Greece.

Austria is ready to impose new controls but is waiting to see if Germany goes ahead with the proposed new measures on its border, Herbert Kickl, the Austrian interior minister said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for adopting a much too relaxed policy on immigration.

It was the latest aftershock from Merkel's 2015 decision to open Germany's borders to more than a million refugees from war in the Middle East and Africa.

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