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Merkel's Bavarian ally hopeful SPD coalition partner will back migrant centres

09 July 2018

The parties agreed to speed up the process of returning asylum-seekers who had already registered in other European Union countries, under existing European Union rules, and to turn back such migrants at the border - but only if agreements were in place with the country where they first registered.

Seehofer also announced that he will meet next week with his Italian and Austrian counterparts for talks aimed at restricting the Mediterranean sea route used by migrants heading to western Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a joint press conference following a meeting on July 5, 2018 in Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday warned that increased security on the EU's border as part of a tougher migrant policy being adopted by bloc leaders should focus on thwarting human trafficking rather than convert the continent into a fortress.

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In a speech to German lawmakers, Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU), defended the plan to hold migrants seeking to enter Germany from Austria in transit centres where those who had already registered elsewhere in the European Union would be sent back there. Germany also wants to reach bilateral deals with Greece and Italy so they take back asylum seekers.

Instead, an accelerated border procedure will be established, and an immigration law will be made later this year, according to Nahles.

"This continued escalation poses a serious threat to growth and recovery in all countries", WTO leader Roberto Azevêdo said in a statement.

"To be honest, I do not want to elaborate on this idea because we do not want to endanger it", he said, adding it was "not connected to the Austrian presidency but it might serve as an example for others".

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That plan must still be approved by the other coalition member, the Social Democrats.

A new poll conducted for broadcaster ARD showed growing frustration among Germans over the migration debate. Arrivals have since dropped sharply to the tens of thousands.

Some in the SPD have accused Seehofer of sparking the coalition crisis to corral right-wing voters ahead of the Bavarian state election in October, after hemorrhaging a million voters to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany in the national election last September.

Merkel ended a tense showdown with her arch-conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer Monday by agreeing to tighten border controls and set up closed "transit centres" to hold migrants on the Austrian frontier.

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Merkel's Bavarian ally hopeful SPD coalition partner will back migrant centres