Angela Merkel forced to agree to a German limit on migrants

As discussed here previously, German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have won another term in the recent elections, but she came away damaged with her previous coalition in tatters. In order to rebuild her alliance in the Bundestag she had to make some new friends and offer concessions to historical allies who were refusing to support her over immigration policy. One of the biggest changes coming out of the recent negotiations is that her former hard line on open borders and no limits on the number of migrants they would accept is out the window. Moving forward, there will be a cap on refugees and other new arrivals. (Associated Press)

Germany’s conservative parties said Monday they have agreed on a law limiting the number of migrants allowed to enter the country every year — though parliament has the power to change the figure in the future.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, say they want to limit the annual number of migrants to 200,000. However, that number can be increased or lowered by parliament in reaction to any future refugee crises.

The migrant issue had been one of the biggest stumbling blocks between the two parties as they head into coalition talks with the pro-business FDP and the Greens to form a new government following last month’s national election.

This has been a stumbling block in Merkel’s previous alliance for some time now. In the past she was able to use her political clout to get her way and refuse any limits on immigration, but her partners in the Christian Social Union (CSU) had disagreed. CSU leader Horst Seehofer had been arguing with Merkel about this for two years, but now that the right wing AfD party won seats in the Bundestag and eroded her power considerably, Merkel had to come to the table.

She’s able to save face to a certain extent by saying that the new agreement has provisions to allow the cap to be changed through parliamentary action if needed. But that’s an ax which cuts both ways. While they could, in theory, raise the cap if Merkel requests it, they could just as easily lower it if new rounds of terror attacks or crime waves committed by migrants put the citizens in the mood to clamp down further.

This isn’t an earthshaking turnabout or any sort of complete reversal of course… yet. But it’s clearly one more sign that Merkel is no longer the Iron Lady who sets the tone for the entire continent as she once was. Combine that with the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron is clearly angling to take a major leadership role in the EU, supplanting Merkel’s former grip on it, and you see a weakened German Chancellor who will likely need to stick more closely to domestic policy than leading the entire European Union. (Time)

Europe might have a new leader to replace Germany’s Angela Merkel, if French President Emmanuel Macron gets his way.

With the German Chancellor holed up in Berlin, attempting to piece together a coalition after an underwhelming election victory on Sunday, Macron strode forcefully into the gap on Tuesday afternoon, unveiling a dramatic new plan to overhaul the 28-member European Union, a role that French leaders have for years largely ceded to Germany.

Of course, not everyone is onboard with Macron taking over Merkel’s former role either. The NY Times described his speech outlining his policy goals as having received mixed reviews at best. What we may be seeing is less of an across the board rejection of Merkel individually, and more of a splintering of the EU into different internal alliances. Brexit dealt them a harsh blow, but since that time the eastern block of members nations, particularly Hungary, Poland and a few others, have been charting their own course on immigration and other issues, basically daring Brussels to challenge them. And thus far it’s a strategy that’s been working.