German Seals Migration Accord With Spain Ahead of Merkel Visit

(Bloomberg) -- Spain agreed to take back asylum seekers within 48 hours if they make their way to Germany’s border, following up on a pledge made to Chancellor Angela Merkel in June.

Germany’s Interior Ministry announced the accord in Berlin as Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plan to meet this weekend. The rule takes effect Saturday, ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann told reporters in Berlin, coinciding with Merkel’s trip to Sanchez’s vacation residence in the Donana national park in southwestern Spain.

Spain’s refugee influx has increased as Italy’s government takes a harder line on migration, shifting the focus of one of the European Union’s most intractable challenges.

A coalition clash over migration brought Merkel to the brink of losing her parliamentary majority in June when her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, threatened to turn away asylum seekers at the German border if they previously registered in another EU country.

Merkel, citing the risk of a cascading resumption of border controls in Europe’s visa-free travel area, said she wouldn’t accept unilateral measures. At an EU summit in June, she won pledges from Spain and Greece to accept returned asylum seekers as part of an EU framework on migration.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.