Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, clinched a last-minute agreement on migration with her interior minister on Monday night, bringing her coalition government back from the brink after a weeks-long row threatened to tear it apart.
Mrs Merkel and Horst Seehofer agreed to set up a "new border regime", tackling secondary immigration on the German-Austrian border. They also agreed to set up transit centres to send back asylum seekers who are already registered in other EU countries.
Mr Seehofer said that since a compromise had been made he would no longer resign.
"We have agreed after very intensive negotiations," he said upon leaving talks with Mrs Merkel. "What is agreed now is really a clear, very, very durable agreement (…) worth fighting for," he added.
Mrs Merkel also said it was a "really good compromise" after a "tough struggle".
Mr Seehofer on Sunday night threatened to resign if a deal was not struck. It had been feared his resignation could see the CDU follow him out of coalition and trigger the collapse of the government.
Mrs Merkel was given backing from both her Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union at a parliamentary meeting yesterday, from which Mr Seehofer was notably absent.
Mr Seehofer has been slammed for pushing Germany’s governing coalition "to the brink" in recent weeks, after he challenged Mrs Merkel by threatening to turn back migrants at the border against her wishes.
A frustrated Andrea Nahles, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), which governs with the CDU and CSU, said on Monday that her patience with the "reckless drama" had "grown thin".
Mr Seehofer, who fears losing to the anti-immigrant AfD in forthcoming Bavaria state elections, had originally given Mrs Merkel a deadline of Sunday to return from the EU summit with a Europe-wide solution to migration, before he carried out his threat.
Figures from the CSU initially welcomed the deal Mrs Merkel struck, which included an agreement "on a political level" to take back some migrants who had passed through other EU countries on their way to Germany, as well as the establishment of EU processing centres.
But Mr Seehofer, who blames Mrs Merkel’s open door refugee policy for his party’s losses in last year’s election to the AfD, said the measures had not gone far enough.
He offered his resignation at a meeting with leaders of his party Sunday night – though he put it on hold ahead of a yesterday’s meeting with the CDU.
Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), yesterday said he was worried the CSU would "plunge our country into chaos".
I will not be dismissed by a chancellor who
is only chancellor because of meHorst Seehofer
Despite his critics, Mr Seehofer displayed a combative attitude as he entered the crisis meeting with Mrs Merkel yesterday afternoon.
"I will not be dismissed by a chancellor who is only chancellor because of me," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday afternoon.
"The person who helped me in the saddle throws me out," he added bitterly. On the way into lengthy and likely heated talks he told journalists: "I hope it will be light when I come back".
The interior minister’s migration "master plan", which he shared with the rest of his party on Sunday, lays out tough measures designed to curb immigration. It includes the rejection of those who have already claimed asylum elsewhere – a sticking point with Mrs Merkel – and plans for the expansion of detention centres, CSU sources said.
Mr Seehofer has been a long-standing critic of Mrs Merkel and her immigration policy. Germany’s ailing coalition government has been plagued by tensions since it was formed in February, four months after the German federal election last September.
A commentary in Der Spiegel yesterday said the CSU’s childish "farce" had now further threatened Germany’s stability. The main beneficiary of the dispute will be the AfD, it warned.
Migration Egypt rejects processing centres idea Egypt will not allow the EU to set up migrant processing centres on its territory, a senior Egyptian politician said, putting a new stumbling block in front of Angela Merkel’s plans for a Europe-wide response to migration.
Ali Abdel Aal, speaker of the House of Representatives, said such facilities "would violate the laws and constitution of our country".
The centres in Egypt and other north African countries were part of a set of proposals agreed to by Mrs Merkel and other EU leaders at a migration summit last week.
Morocco has also told the EU it would not agree to have processing centres on its territory.
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