A mini-summit held today (20th June) between the Austrian and Bavarian governments is the latest in a series of events that could spell the end of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Austrian Chancellor Kurz, along with a large number of cabinet ministers – with Heinz-Christian Strache and Norbert Hofer the notable admissions – welcomed Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder to the Austrian border town of Linz.
Top of the agenda, and the topic on everybody’s lips was, of course, migration.
The Bavarians feel they have allies in the Berghof in the shape of the young Chancellor Kurz and his administration, who have touted an increasingly hard-line position on protecting Europe’s external borders.
Ahead of the talks, Söder described the ‘joint conviction and joint stance’ shared between Bavaria and Austria, a clear signal that Merkel’s migration agenda is being increasingly marginalised in Central Europe.
At a press conference, Kurz said that the predominant question is “how do we protect [Europe’s] external borders”.
Both Söder and Kurz signalled their agreement on the creation of “protection zones” within Africa, as a preferable solution to Africans moving en masse to Europe.
Kurz also explained his support for individual nation states having greater autonomy in deciding who they let into their countries.
Despite refusing to be drawn on German domestic politics, Kurz demonstrated that his ideological partners in Germany are unquestionably Bavarian and in direct opposition to Merkel’s Berlin agenda.
Merkel faces a domestic crisis as the Bavarians, who hold the balance of power within the weak Bundestag coalition, have threatened to pull the plug on the agreement over the Chancellor’s handling of asylum and immigration policy.
Merkel’s own Interior Minister, the Bavarian Horst Seehofer, sparked the crisis when he publicly criticised the government. Reports suggest he has given an ultimatum to the Chancellery on this issue.
The information thus far is promising, as Angela Merkel’s days in power appear to be numbered. Her removal can only be a positive for Germany and all of Europe.