Monday

18th Feb 2019

Merkel: No EU sanctions on migrant quota rebels

  • Merkel said disagreement on the distribution of refugees was regrettable (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Angela Merkel has refused to link refugee-sharing to the EU budget as she embarked on her campaign to secure a fourth term as Germany’s leader.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia are blocking the redistribution of refugees via obligatory EU quotas, leaving Greece and Italy to bear the burden of the migration crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Merkel's opponent in the elections, the centre-left SPD party’s Martin Schulz, has called for a harder EU line, including cuts in EU funds for the migrant quota rebels.

But Merkel told the Deutschlandfunks and Phoenix radio and TV broadcasters on Monday (14 August) that “to pay ransom, that won't work in this context.”

She made it clear that she wanted to continue negotiations instead of imposing sanctions.

She also said the disagreement on the distribution of refugees was regrettable.

"I will not let it go," she said.

Leading with a margin of over 10 per cent in the polls six weeks ahead of the German elections on 24 September, Merkel also disagreed with her closest political ally, the leader of the conservative CSU party in Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, who has called for an upper limit to be fixed for the number of refugees that Germany can accept.

"I do not believe the upper limit is right," Merkel told Deutschlandfunks and Phoenix.

She acknowledged there was "dissent" on the issue with her CSU sister party.

She also said that the 2015 situation, when 890,000 refugees came to Germany in one year, should not be repeated.

U-turn on car industry

Freshly back from her summer holidays, Merkel also made her position clear on other political hot potatoes.

Speaking at a rally in Dortmund, she castigated German car companies for having cheated on CO2 emissions by using special software.

“Large sections of the automobile industry have gambled away huge amount of trust,” she said. “And when I say industry I mean first and foremost the companies’ management".

The attack marked a U-turn as Merkel had earlier defended the German auto industry against stronger EU regulations that could harm its bottom line.

Defence spending without social cuts

Merkel also assured voters that planned defence spending hikes would not lead to welfare cuts, rebutting SPD criticism that she had given in to US demands on Nato targets.

The SPD is campaigning for more social welfare and has rejected demands from US president Donald Trump that Germany and other Nato members should spend at least 2 percent of their GDPs on the military.

“We clearly say No to the two-percent target of Trump and the CDU/CSU,” Schulz and Thomas Oppermann, who heads the SPD party in parliament, wrote in a joint article earlier this month.

Increasing annual defence expenditure to 2 percent would make Germany the largest military power in Europe, they said.

Merkel open to new coalition

Speaking at another campaign rally on Monday, in Gelnhausen near Frankfurt, Merkel was booed and whistled at by supporters of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

A group of around 100 AfD supporters, some of them wearing stickers with the party's logo and carrying posters with slogans such as "Immigration needs clear rules", heckled the chancellor throughout her 33-minute speech in the market square, the Reuters news agency reported.

The AfD is unlikely to do well, according to polls.

But Schulz, who was president of the European Parliament until January, said he still hoped to win despite Merkel’s massive lead.

“I think I still have a good chance to lead the next government,” he told Germany's ZDF television's Berlin Direkt program.

The latest poll, by the Emnid agency for Bild newspaper on Sunday, showed the SPD gaining one point to hit 24 percent support compared to Merkel on 38 percent.

The margin of error was 2.5 percent.

Merkel has said she is open to all possible coalition options after the elections, except a partnership with the socialist Left Party or the AfD.

Her Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) is currently in a coalition with the SPD, but she said she might look to a new deal with German liberals or greens instead.

The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), a former Merkel ally, is polling to receive 8 percent support, while the Green Party, which backed Merkel’s open door policy for refugees, is on 7 percent.

According to the poll, the Left Party was estimated to get 10 percent and the AfD to get 8 percent.

Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore

The German chancellor said Europe must take its fate into its own hands in the era of Brexit and Trump, in a speech aimed at rallying support in Germany for her re-election.

Martin Schulz, down but not out against Merkel

After the Social Democrats' crushing defeat in its party leader's home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the odds seem stacked against them for the rapidly approaching federal election in September.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

Schulz mauls Merkel as German vote nears

Merkel has “lost touch” with ordinary people, does not know how to handle Dieselgate, and is too soft on Turkey, her main election rival has said.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us