Italian Premier says EU migrant draft doc to be shelved
25 June, 2018, 01:25
To placate the CSU, Merkel must get something from Sunday, arranged hastily among more than a dozen European Union capitals, and also from the full summit of the bloc's 28 leaders on 28-29 June.
Germany's ultra-conservative interior minister has threatened to end the coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats amid a growing row over stricter measures to address the refugee crisis.
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But with fears of new migrant surges in the future, diplomats warn the asylum reform impasse could destroy the EU's signature Schengen system of borderless travel.
"Sunday will be a first exchange between interested and affected member states, no more and no less", she said at a regular Berlin press conference.
The meeting on Sunday among leaders from a group of European Union countries, led by Germany and France, is meant to thrash out possible solutions.
Now facing a political crisis, Merkel's new hardline interior minister Horst Seehofer has given her until the end of June to find a European deal to curb new arrivals.
A Spanish aid group that has rescued thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean said Italy had declined its offer to help seven smugglers' boats carrying about 1,000 migrants in need of rescue off Libya's coast. She said on Friday conditions in Syria were not yet right for refugees to return.
The comments came after Italy's new coalition of far-right and anti-establishment parties has made clear it does not want to take in more migrants and after several eastern European states said they would stay away from preliminary talks on the issue Sunday.
She said the hope is to see if "we can reach bi-, tri- or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems".
The issue has divided longtime conservative allies and poses the most serious challenge yet to Merkel's leadership, raising questions about a possible collapse of her coalition a little more than 100 days after it took office. Der Spiegel had reported that the party's preparations would include deciding who would run for chancellor.
"I have always believed in the common destiny of the CDU and CSU", he told Spiegel magazine.
To stave off any coalition crisis, Merkel is pushing other European Union leaders towards more measures to stem immigration to the bloc and restrict movement of those migrants who make it there.
She also met with the president as well as with representatives of United Nations agencies and Lebanese businessmen during her trip.
Germany let in more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, but official data for 2017 released last month show that the country's crime rate is at its lowest since 1992.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon stood at some 997,000 as of the end of a year ago, not including those who were not registered with the UNHCR.
But Bulgaria said it would argue at the weekend talks for the EU's external borders to be shut completely to migrants and centres for war refugees set up outside its territory.
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