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French, German Leaders Urge 'European Response' To Migrant Crisis
22 June 2018, 01:24 | Bernice Figueroa
A reversal of her 2015 open-door migrant policy would be a huge blow to Merkel's authority
The German Chancellor is struggling to avert a crisis within her coalition on migrant policy.
Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) on Monday gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel two weeks to reach a European deal on migrants before they would demand immigration curbs that could fracture her governing coalition.
After Merkel bowed to pressure from the CSU and made Seehofer her interior minister this spring, he told Bild: "Islam does not belong to Germany".
Merkel herself is facing a showdown with her own hardline interior minister after his call for turning back undocumented migrants at German borders and speeding up ejections of rejected asylum seekers.
Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party CSU have suffered heavy losses in the country's federal elections past year, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored record gains and entered the parliament for the first time.
NELSON: The interior minister and his party, which is facing a major challenge from far-right populists in upcoming regional elections, say they will unilaterally prevent migrants from crossing Bavaria's worldwide borders if Berlin doesn't act.
A CSU leadership meeting Monday in Munich unanimously backed Seehofer's plan to give Merkel until the end of the month to find a solution with other European Union countries.
"We know that an economic and monetary union can only remain intact if economic policies converge", she said, adding that euro zone reform was the toughest issue in the talks, which also touched on European foreign and defense policy and immigration.
More than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents since early May, a practice loudly decried by rights groups and USA politicians from both main parties. Seehofer is chairman of the CSU.
Several high profile crimes by migrants - including the 2016 Christmas market attack by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker as well as the recent rape-murder of a teenage girl allegedly by an Iraqi - have also helped to fuel anger. More than a million migrants crossed the Austrian border into Germany through Bavaria since 2015.
Top CSU leaders huddled Monday morning in the party's home base of Munich.
"How Germany acts will decide whether Europe stays together or not", Merkel told her CDU party's leadership at a meeting in Berlin, according to participants.
Noting in their declaration that "the EU faces existential challenges", the leaders agreed to set up a European border police and to create a European asylum office.
There is even talk that the 70-year-old conservative parliamentary alliance between the CDU and CSU could collapse.
Finally, they said victims of crime are twice as likely to report incidents if they are committed by people who are different from them, distorting the statistics.
She said she would report back July 1 on the results of her negotiations, and that as far as she's concerned it's not yet clear what will happen if there's no European deal on the divisive topic.
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