Germany crisis: A ‘hardened’ Merkel could be a deadly blow to EU
Berlin, July 4: She was one of the last European leaders with an open mind towards the refugees and migrants but after Germany reached the brink, the curtains are drawn on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Europe's experiment with liberal approach.
Germany's political struggle began with the dissent of Christian Social Union's (CSU) Horst Seehofer, Merkel's interior minister, over the issue of immigration.
Merkel vs Seehofer
Merkel and Seehofer had serious differences over the entry of the "secondary" migrants - people who first enter another country of the European Union like Italy and Greece - and then take advantage of the EU's open borders to move into Germany.
Now, Seehofer is an important figure in German politics with his CSU dominating the state of Bavaria, the largest in Germany and also an affluent and conservative one. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) doesn't even operate in the south-eastern state and that puts the CSU leader at a vantage point.
The clash between the two leaders is one between the liberal and conservative. While Merkel has emphasised on the open borders of the EU and also Germany's open mind towards accepting migrants and refugees, Seehofer has his own compulsions. His party banks on conservatives and the border location of Bavaria leading to arrival of secondary migrants means the CSU could lose ground to the far-right groups and parties ahead of the state election in Bavaria in October this year. Merkel's position is, thus, untenable for Seehofer.
The CSU leader hence asked Merkel to shut Germany's border for the secondary migrants and said either he would do it if the chancellor refused or would resign. In that case, it will only lead to the fall of Merkel's coalition government, pushing Germany to the brink of a political instability.
On Monday, July 2, Merkel came up with a compromise deal whereby Germany would set up camps along the Austrian border to give shelter to the secondary migrants while their status is reviewed. Any migrant found to be registered for temporary status in another country will be deported.
But even this deal doesn't guarantee security to Merkel's government. The centre-left Social Democratic Party, which is also a member of the Merkel government, needs to acknowledge it or else, the government might fall.
If Germany hardens its border policy, other nations will follow suit
The only way for Merkel is to harden the border of Germany and that would have a cascading effect, putting the EU's idea of integration and openness under threat. For if a frontline European power eventually decides to shut the borders and neutralise the EU's basic tenet of openness, other states of the continent who are less secure and flourishing than Merkel will also do the same, leading to a complete collapse of the idea of European fraternity.
Merkel already had a serious difference with Italy's political leadership over a refugee deal with Rome's populist Giuseppe Conte government expressing its frustration over the fact that the burden of the refugees was not shared evenly across the European bloc. Italy itself has seen a massive influx refugees entering its territory since 2015 after the route via Turkey and Greece was shut for them.