BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s executive said on Tuesday the German ruling coalition’s deal on migration seemed in line with the law.
The European Commission’s head, Jean-Claude Juncker, told a news conference on the sidelines of a European Parliament session in Strasbourg: “I’m not aware of an agreement at the level of the federal government, I’m aware of an agreement of two parties.
“I have not studied it in detail but at first glance, and I have asked the legal services to look at it, it seems to me to be in line with the law.”
Juncker was speaking after German Chancellor Angela Merkel settled a row with one of her political partners over migration late on Monday.
The deal, which envisages setting up transit camps for migrants on the German-Austrian border, needs the approval of Merkel’s other coalition partner and agreements with other EU states to take back asylum seekers registered in their territories.
EU laws on asylum do envisage “transit zones” on member states’ soil where refugees and migrants could be handled, an EU official told Reuters separately.
Diplomats in Brussels said the bloc could not reject an agreement that bolstered its most powerful government.
“Even if it runs against EU laws - how many other things are not in line with the common law, especially on migration? This is a political mission to prevent turbulence in Germany and so it will be pushed through as such,” said one senior EU diplomat.
Germany’s neighbour Austria said it would tighten its own southern borders if Berlin went ahead with the plan. That could trigger more border checks across the EU’s coveted Schengen zone of control-free travel.
Another diplomat said it would take time to set up the German transit centres, let alone negotiate bilateral deals with Austria, Italy and other countries on returning people.
Editing by Janet Lawrence