Germany's asylum row: who will win out?

There is still no sign of an agreement in the dispute over Germany's asylum policy. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) continues to insist that asylum seekers registered in another EU country should be turned back at Germany's borders. Chancellor Merkel (CDU) is calling for a pan-European solution. Commentators ask what consequences a victory for Seehofer would have, and why Merkel's position is so weak.

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Večernji list (HR) /

Water cannons versus welcome culture

If Seehofer gets his way the consequences will be felt far beyond Germany's borders, Večernji list explains:

“Does Merkel want to lead a Germany where police brutality, truncheons and water cannons are used to fend off refugees at its borders? As in 2015, she says that that's not what she wants. The problem is that the CSU does want this, and that its leader has become interior minister. He wants to push through his plan of turning migrants back at the German border even without Merkel's approval. This is a serious crisis that is rocking Germany to its very foundations. For countries on the EU's outer borders like Croatia it would mean more asylum seekers remaining there or being sent back there. That would just be a bad situation.”

Večer (SI) /

Teaming up with Rome and Vienna

Germany's interior minister has chosen the wrong side in the dispute over asylum policy, writes Večer:

“Horst Seehofer is facing Angela Merkel, who despite the neoliberal paradigms within her own government was capable of altruism and empathy in 2015, with ultimatums like not allowing one more refugee to enter Germany. He prefers to risk the collapse of the ruling coalition which was so difficult to put together. He would like to turn away all refugees who have already been registered in another EU country. In this way the new coalition of the willing between Germany, Austria and Italy would start to function. But it would not be directed against a ruler in the Middle East whom the West has helped come to power, but against the people that are forced to flee him.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Interior minister only interested in Bavaria

Seehofer is doing far too little to seek a European solution to the refugee crisis together with his European counterparts, Handelsblatt criticises:

“Has he not met with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and spoken about solutions together with Italy? Is the Bavarian cabinet not meeting with the governing team in Vienna this Wednesday? Why not come up with some solutions there? Seehofer could talk with the Greeks, with the Spanish and the Bulgarians. He could help to bring about the European solution that Merkel also hopes to achieve. But Seehofer is acting as the CSU leader in Berlin. As if he were a 'black sheriff', his goal is to protect Bavaria's borders - against refugees and against the enemy at home: the AfD.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Merkel has failed with policy of procrastination

For Financial Times correspondent Wolfgang Münchau the chancellor is to blame for the fact that Europe's big problems are still unresolved:

“Ms Merkel's general strategy of procrastination has reached the end of the line. Mr Seehofer wants a firm policy on immigration. And Emmanuel Macron, the French president, demands a response on the reform of the eurozone. ... Many people have admired Ms Merkel's pragmatism and her managerial style. But the trade-off has been a persistent failure to solve problems. The photo from the G7 summit of world leaders in Canada, showing her in a defiant posture opposite Mr Trump, is an optical illusion. She is not standing up to anyone, not even to Mr Seehofer.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Merkel avoiding motion of confidence

Faced with such a conflict other chancellors would have already introduced a motion of confidence in parliament, the Berliner Zeitung suspects:

“But Merkel would not be Merkel if she lost her nerves in such a situation rather than buying time for an alternative solution. And since yesterday she also knows: even in her own party she's long been too weak to take such a risk. Because in spite of the sometimes malicious attacks on Merkel from the CSU even her own parliamentary group is only seemingly lending her its support. In giving her two weeks to find a European solution it did not come down on her side - but instead gave her an ultimatum. Whatever the outcome of the conflict over this particular point: from today on Merkel will never recover as chancellor.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

A fight for survival

Merkel's political survival is now at stake, De Telegraaf's Germany correspondent Rob Savelberg comments:

“The internal row between the CDU and the CSU is about nothing less than Merkel's core principles and therefore her political power. ... Merkel, was was born and raised in the GDR and has a doctorate in physics under her belt, is against Germany taking a 'unilateral' approach and for solutions taken by the EU as a whole. ... She wants to avoid at all costs a scenario in which war refugees and migrants seeking a better life are left stranded in southern Europe or the Balkans. This experienced politician, one hears behind the scenes, fears that major political tensions could arise there. This is why she is pushing for 'European solutions' and the already agreed-on redistribution of 160,000 refugees”

Právo (CZ) /

Merkel facing results of failed migration policy

Právo sides with Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer:

“In her fight against Seehofer, Merkel is seeking a European solution. But in doing so she ignores that she herself was the one who adopted a national decision in 2015 when she ignored EU regulations. If Merkel agreed to Seehofer's demands and stopped taking in migrants who are already registered elsewhere in the EU, this would not be going it alone as a nation, as she argues it would be. On the contrary, it would pave the way for Germany to finally implementing what is prescribed by European law. ... Admittedly, by accepting Seehofer's plan Merkel would at the same time be demonstrating that her migration policy is a complete fiasco.”