Thursday, December 3, 2020
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‘EU leader’ Merkel on a knife-edge

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Since I wrote last on Merkel, migrants and the scandal the media does not think you need to know about, which left left the German Chancellor on the brink of resignation, she had until last Saturday to come up with an EU-wide agreement on asylum-seekers, or to have a German solution forced on her by her coalition partner Horst Seehofer of the CSU party.

So when the EU leaders met in Brussels last Thursday and Friday to try to wrangle a solution on migration, Merkel’s own political fate was hanging precariously in the balance. But after marathon talks, EU leaders agreed – though only on a voluntary basis – to set up ‘controlled’ migrant processing centres within Europe which would swiftly distinguish between genuine asylum-seekers and ‘irregular migrants, who will be returned’.

Germany had already begun to implement the Dublin agreement which states that migrants to the EU must claim asylum in the first European country they land in and not attempt to travel to another more distant country. And since last year, it is reported, more than one third of asylum seekers removed from Germany were returned to Italy. But this has not been enough for Germany’s new Interior Minister Seehofer who is taking a much tougher stance on asylum since Germany is still processing more asylum applications than Greece and Italy put together. He has already called for internal border checks to be extended for when the suspension of the Schengen agreement ran out at the end of May and he is determined to speed up deportations of rejected asylum seekers.

Merkel may have demonstrated her control over other EU countries this weekend for now, but any hope that the talks had saved her domestic bacon proved to be short-lived.

No sooner than she was back in Germany than Herr Seehofer threatened his resignation over her voluntary EU-wide deal of the weekend. Their crisis talks were set for late this afternoon.

It is far from a long-term solution to her woes. To say that political allies as well as opponents are cautious over whether the agreement can work in practice is to put it at its mildest. Furthermore, despite the hostile reaction in Britain over President Trump’s tweet that Merkel’s support in Germany is collapsing, the most recent poll data suggests that far from inventing fake news, he was reporting the situation accurately. ‘The fight over asylum policy in Germany has left German voters unimpressed with Merkel’s conservative alliance, according to the latest poll,’ one paper has since reported.

If Merkel survives this latest crisis, it is only as a wounded beast. She is far from the powerhouse she once was; her policies are seen to be the direct cause of the rise of the Right-wing party AfD which now looks closer than ever to defeating her coalition partners in a coming state election in Bavaria.

The same question raises its head as in my last post. Is the MSM reflecting the importance of the damage done to Merkel, the apparent leader of the EU, by her immigration policy, to herself, Germany and the future of the EU, or for their implication of this creaking structure for our Brexit talks?

Why are they so quick to criticise Donald Trump for tweeting about the collapse of Merkel’s support, when the latest polls show this to be absolutely the case?

Theresa May is to visit Angela Merkel on July 12 for Brexit talks. We will watch with interest how the media report this, should both these leaders still be clinging to office by then.

An afterthought: will the British government take advantage of this new EU agreement and return all the asylum seekers who have entered the UK after passing through other European countries first, as the Dublin agreement allows them to?

And how keen will Britain’s ‘liberal’ mainstream media be to ask or pursue that question, despite the fact that most of us already know the answer?

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Melanie Platt
Melanie Platt worked at the Home Office as a Higher Executive Officer.

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