Oettinger appeals to CSU to ease pressure on Merkel

Günther Oettinger on 24 June 2018. [European Commission]

Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, an ally of beleaguered German Chancellor Angela Merkel from her CDU party, appealed on Monday (25 June) to CDU’s Bavarian sister party, CSU, to ease their pressure on the Chancellor by not setting strict deadlines to fix the migration conundrum.

Oettinger spoke to the Brussels press presenting yet another Commission communication on the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027.

Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU) agreed to give her a few days’ of breathing space to find a pan-EU solution on migration, following a row over immigration that threatens to scupper her three-month-old coalition government.

But she conceded that even the “big” summit on 28-29 June was unlikely to produce a broad solution and said she may try for direct deals with other member states instead.

Merkel avoids government collapse over immigration but faces deadline

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies agreed to give her two weeks’ breathing space yesterday (18 June) to find a European solution to a row over immigration that threatens to scupper her three-month-old coalition government.

The two Christian Democratic parties share a common parliamentary group in the Bundestag, the “CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag”, referred to as Union-Fraktion.

According to German federal electoral Law, members of a parliamentary group which share the same basic political aims must not compete with one another in any federal state. The CSU contests elections only in Bavaria, while the CDU operates in the other 15 states of Germany. The CSU reflects the particular concerns of the largely rural, Catholic south.

Oettinger was asked if he thought a compromise on migration was coming after the mini-summit on migration hosted on Sunday by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The summit produced no conclusions but was generally described as useful, and major clashes between France and Italy were reportedly avoided.

Conte and Macron compare notes on migration at mini-summit

Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration – a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU. No results were announced, but sources said the discussions had largely revolved around a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Oettinger said that over the last period, those pushing for reform in the EU first had to be very patient because of the French presidential election,and then the German Bundestag election and the difficulties in forming a government that lasted 100 days.

This is why he said it was “essential for the future of Europe” that Germany would continue to have a stable government, and that SPD, CDU and CSU continue to work constructively within the grand coalition.

“I grew up in Baden-Württemberg, and our CDU is pretty close to the CSU in Bavaria, it’s very close between Stuttgart and Munich, and nobody wants to see the Unions-Fraktion splitting in two separate parties. We do not want to see an escalation here. Instead, in the next few days, we are going to have to find a way of working together, looking one another in the eye, being honest and working together”, he said.

The Commissioner continued:

“If you believe as I believe that we need an agreement at the European level on migration, there is good will here. But you cannot set a deadline there, saying that you absolutely must, must, must have an agreement by 1 July, and otherwise, that’s it, shoot the shop and nothing is going to happen.”

He added that the figures of refugees crossing Germany’s borders are not similar to those of 2016, but “far, far less”.

“If the majority of refugees want to go to Germany, there must be a reason behind that, it’s not because Germany won the last World Cup, it’s because of the better quality of life, it’s because of the longer court processes if you appeal [if the asylum request is turned down], it’s because of the lower risk of being removed from the country in the meantime. [Germany] is a magnet, and we have to discuss that magnetic effect,” Oettinger concluded.

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