Tougher Immigration Policies Split Germany’s Ruling Parties

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel meets with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012 (EPP)

Having solved one immigration crisis in her coalition government, German chancellor Angela Merkel now faces another.

Last week, she calmed down her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, by agreeing to the creation of “transit zones” on Germany’s borders to control the influx of asylum seekers and temporarily freeze family reunifications.

Her other coalition partners are up in arms about the new policies. Read more “Tougher Immigration Policies Split Germany’s Ruling Parties”

Merkel Joins Britain’s Call for Two-Speed Europe

David Cameron Angela Merkel
British prime minister David Cameron walks with German chancellor Angela Merkel outside his Chequers country residence in Buckinghamshire, England, October 9 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday joined British leaders in calling for a more flexible European Union where countries can opt out of integration schemes.

“The Europe of today is no longer a Europe of one speed,” she told a business conference in Berlin. Read more “Merkel Joins Britain’s Call for Two-Speed Europe”

Merkel Mends Ties with Bavarian Ally on Immigration

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel started walking back her open-door immigration policy on Sunday to mend ties inside her ruling coalition.

A joint statement released by Merkel and Horst Seehofer, the leader of her Bavarian sister part, the Christian Social Union, calls for the creation of “transit zones” on Germany’s border to control the influx of people as well as a temporary freeze in family reunifications.

In a concession by Seehofer, the paper does not suggest a ceiling for the number of asylum seekers that can enter Germany this year. Read more “Merkel Mends Ties with Bavarian Ally on Immigration”

Europe’s Future Doesn’t Hinge on Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Kiev, Ukraine, February 5 (Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been in power for almost a decade. During that time, she has presided over Germany’s economic revival (even if that owed much to her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder) and assumed leadership in the European sovereign debt crisis — which saw Germany return to a position of preeminence on the continent.

It’s hard to imagine life without Merkel. But it would be a mistake to think Europe can’t do without her.

A seasoned reporter like Britain’s Philip Stephens should know better than to fear Europe will “unravel” if Merkel loses her job. Surely sixty years of European integration won’t come undone the day Merkel leaves office? Read more “Europe’s Future Doesn’t Hinge on Angela Merkel”

German Conservatives Resist Merkel’s Immigration Policy

German chancellor Angela Merkel is coming under pressure from her own right-wing supporters to scale back an open-door immigration policy.

Earlier this week, Merkel took the immigration portfolio away from her interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, after he had voiced support for stricter controls.

On Wednesday, 34 local officials from the ruling CDU party wrote to Merkel, saying her immigration policy was “not in line with either European or German law, nor does it reflect the CDU’s program.”

That night, Merkel appeared on a special television broadcast to defend her approach. “We can do this,” she said when asked to respond to accusations that she has no plan to cope with the high number of asylum seekers. Read more “German Conservatives Resist Merkel’s Immigration Policy”

Merkel’s Generous Migration Policy Splits Europe

European Union interior ministers agreed on Tuesday to distribute 120,000 migrants across the bloc’s 28 member states. But although the number is a fraction of the hundreds of thousands seeking asylum this year, four Central European nations still voted against the plan while Finland abstained.

Championed by Germany, which is bearing the brunt of the migrant crisis, the new plan would distribute asylum seekers proportionately across countries. But it would not be mandatory.

Earlier this week, the ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia expressed strong opposition, saying, “any proposal leading to the introduction of mandatory and permanent quota for solidarity measures would be unacceptable.”

Germany’s liberal Der Spiegel argues that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s generous immigration policy — which could see Europe’s largest economy admit up to one million asylum seekers this year — is undermining European unity. “German chancellors have always strived for consensus,” the magazine writes. “Merkel has now embarked on her own special path.” Read more “Merkel’s Generous Migration Policy Splits Europe”

Merkel, Schäuble Disagree About Greek Euro Exit

German chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, disagree about how far the rest of the European Union should go to keep Greece in the euro, Der Spiegel reports.

Whereas Merkel, the leader of Europe’s largest economy and Greece’s biggest creditor, fears the economic as well as political repercussions of a Greek exit from the eurozone, Schäuble is reportedly convinced the scenario would actually leave the rest of the bloc better off.

Which of them is the more intransigent? Merkel, whose popularity serves as the backbone of the EU? Or Schäuble, for whom there is considerable good will among members of parliament, fed up as they are with having to approve one bailout package after another?

When the Bundestag last voted to extend financial aid to Greece, more than one hundred members insisted it was for the last time. Read more “Merkel, Schäuble Disagree About Greek Euro Exit”

Is Austerity Losing the Battle in Europe?

The different measures implemented in Europe in order to boost growth through increased monetary action, investment and structural reforms have replaced austerity as the new dominant dogma. While Angela Merkel is adapting to the new situation, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann disagrees with more budget flexibility and a possible QE by the European Central Bank (ECB) in 2015.

In the past few days, Andrea Bonanni, Brussels correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, published an article in which he announced that Angela Merkel and Germany had lost the long battle over austerity in Europe. Read more “Is Austerity Losing the Battle in Europe?”

Merkel Alarmed by Ukraine’s NATO Ambitions

German chancellor Angela Merkel opposes NATO membership for Ukraine and worries that a planned referendum in the country about joining the alliance could aggravate Western relations with Russia.

The Bloomberg news agency cites a German official saying Merkel believes the referendum won’t bring Ukraine closer to NATO. A second official said any Ukrainian bid to join NATO could only end badly. Both asked not to be named.

Michael Grosse-Brömer, the parliamentary whip for Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc, said, “NATO membership for Ukraine isn’t on the agenda at this point.” Read more “Merkel Alarmed by Ukraine’s NATO Ambitions”

Germany No Longer Thinks British EU Exit Unthinkable

Germany no longer rules out a British withdrawal from the European Union, weekly Der Spiegel reported on Sunday. British prime minister David Cameron’s proposal to limit free labor migration in Europe — one of the union’s cornerstone integration policies — would be a bridge too far for his German counterpart, Angela Merkel.

Citing unnamed government sources, Der Spiegel said a “point of no return” could be reached in Anglo-German relations. Read more “Germany No Longer Thinks British EU Exit Unthinkable”