Angela Merkel faces fresh battle with hardline rivals, over eurozone budget
Berlin — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative allies on Wednesday took aim at her backing for a new eurozone budget, German media reported, opening up another front in their attack against her.
Merkel’s Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) gave her an ultimatum on Monday to curb migrant arrivals or risk pitching Germany into a political crisis that could rattle Europe.
The Bavaria-based party has now also taken issue with an agreement between France and Germany to set up a common budget for the eurozone, which will fund investments in poorer member states.
"We were always very sceptical about a eurozone budget. Simply because it’s a form of additional budget," Bavaria’s state premier leader Markus Soeder told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"Is it separate from German lawmakers? Does it mean that the fundamental stability of the euro will be challenged? All that must be clarified," he said.
Both Sueddeutsche and Bild dailies said the CSU will call a coalition panel to look into it. Germans are deeply opposed to any "transfer union" that sees their taxes flowing to eurozone laggards.
And Merkel herself had initially appeared lukewarm to the idea of a budget for the bloc.
But she has since offered a key concession to French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for such a fund, although she said in a recent interview that the total sum should be "at the lower end of the double-digit billions of euros range" — far less than what Paris had hoped for.
The CSU’s opposition came in a week marked by a deep rift between the Bavarian party and Merkel over her liberal refugee policy that allowed more than a million asylum seekers to enter Germany since 2015.
A defiant Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CSU on Monday warned that he would give Merkel a fortnight to find a European deal to curb new arrivals by a June 28-29 EU summit, failing which he vowed to order border police to turn back migrants.
If Seehofer pushes through with his threat, Merkel would be forced to sack him, possibly triggering the end of her coalition in which the Social Democrats make up the third party.