Germany Ditches ‘Migrant Centers’ for ‘Police Facilities’ in Final Deal of Merkel’s Ruling Coalition
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, has agreed to support a package deal to curb the influx of migrants, but has insisted the establishment of border “transit centers” for asylum seekers be ditched altogether.
Earlier this week, the SDP at first failed to grant its immediate approval for the hard won migrant deal struck between the embattled Chancellor and her conservative coalition partner, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
After weeks of simmering conflict, on Monday, Merkel and Seehofer, who is also the leader of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s ruling CDU party, reached an agreement on the introduction of a new border regime at the German – Austrian border.
It included the establishment of “transit centers” that would help Germany send back any asylum seekers who have already been registered in another EU member state.
While the Merkel – Seehofer deal has rescued the decades-long alliance between the CDU and the CSU, but the third partner in Germany’s ruling coalition, the SPD, initially balked at approving it, having been especially opposed to the “transit centers” idea.
On Wednesday evening, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives reached an agreement on asylum policy with the center-left SPD, DW reports.
The “transit centers” which were supposed to spring up on the German – Austrian border, however, are notably gone from the agreed upon measures.
The leaders of Germany’s ruling coalition agreed instead on “transit processes in police centers,” CSU leader Seehofer told reporters.
The German Cabinet explained in a statement that if migrants were not able to be taken to a “transit accommodation area” at the Munich airport, Germany’s federal police would process arriving migrants at their existing facilities along the border.
According to SPD leader, Andrea Nahles, Germany would take no unilateral action concerning migration.
Instead, there would be quicker processes for handling asylum applications based on the Dublin agreement, which regulates asylum policy across the European Union.
“[We have agreed on] a package [of measures] for the reorganization of asylum policy,” Nahles is quoted as saying, adding that it was a “good solution.”
“You’re looking at a very happy Interior Minister,” Horst Seehofer declared after the reaching of the final agreement of Germany’s ruling coalition, making it clear he was satisfied with the deal.
Germany received almost 900,000 migrants from the Middle East in 2015 alone, the height of the ongoing migration crisis in the EU. The number dropped down to some 280,000 in 2016.
Merkel’s welcoming policy towards the migrants back then has been highly criticized, and is widely seen as one of the explanations for the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
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