BERLIN, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The leaders of Germany and France agreed Tuesday to create a Eurozone budget they hope will boost investment and provide a safety mechanism for the 19 nations using the euro currency, and also to seek a European solution to migration issues.
The announcement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron came after a meeting in Berlin to coordinate the two major powers' positions on the future of the European Union ahead of next week's EU summit.
Though Merkel had been lukewarm on Macron's idea of a European budget, in a declaration adopted by both leaders following the meeting they said they had agreed upon a proposal to establish one aimed at "competitiveness and convergence."
"It could finance new investments and come in substitution of national spending," they said.
Merkel said the two also agreed to enhance the effectiveness of the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, which was established in 2012 to provide eurozone nations access to financial assistance in the event of crisis.
"We are opening a new chapter," she said.
Macron said details were intentionally being kept general on the budget idea at the moment, so that other member nations would be able to have their voices heard. He said the idea is for the budget to be in place by 2021 as a "backstop to ensure financial stability."
On migration, Merkel's insistence on finding common European solutions to reducing migrant numbers and other issues has met stiff resistance in her own conservative bloc, leading to a showdown over the last week with her interior minister who has insisted some categories of migrants should be turned away at Germany's borders.
On Monday, a potential crisis was averted after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his Bavaria-only Christian Social Union agreed to give Merkel two weeks to make deals with other European countries on migrants - specifically after the upcoming EU summit.
In their joint declaration, the leaders cautioned that "if member states started to act unilaterally, this would end up in an overall increase of migration into Europe."
Merkel told reporters she was still convinced that Europe needed to work together to combat the causes of the refugee flow by helping improve conditions in the countries of origin while at the same time increasing security at Europe's outer borders and cracking down on smugglers.
"Our goal remains a European answer to these challenges," she said.
Macron agreed to the need for "a European response to the challenge of migration," saying Europe must have "more capacity" to monitor its external borders but also more "solidarity mechanisms both outside and inside our borders" faced with migrant arrivals.
Both leaders said they wanted to increase personnel at Frontex, Europe's border security agency.
"We want more sovereignty and unity," Macron said. "We're at a moment of truth in Europe."
CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (MENA) - Head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt Andrea Zaki met during his recent visit to Germany with leaders of the Evangelical Church and Arab churches in Europe, said a statement issued by the church on Tuesday.
The statement added that Zaki will visit during his current Western tour the US cities of St. Louis, Chicago and Washington to give lectures and will also meet US officials and Congressmen as well as leaders of Arab and US churches in the United States.
PRAGUE, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - A demand by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Bavarian allies for border checks within the EU to curb migrant arrivals into Germany is unacceptable to the neighbouring Czech Republic, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday.
Babis said the 28-country European Union still has a lot to do on migration, but it should not forget its core principles, including the freedom of movement. The Czech Republic is a member of the EU's Schengen open-border area.
"Recent disputes over migration in Germany leads to proposals of closing borders and renewal of border controls which is unacceptable for us," Babis said at a conference on the EU in Prague.
BRUSSELS, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union will agree next week to look into creating disembarkation platforms in north Africa and elsewhere to decide asylum requests before claimants get to Europe, a draft statement ahead of an EU summit showed.
European capitals from Rome to Budapest have called for such centres as the bloc has struggled since 2015 to deal with higher immigration, but concerns that processing people outside EU borders could violate the law have so far prevented such moves.
Now, however, Italy's new anti-establishment government has demanded that Europe does more to help it handle refugees and migrants arriving from across the Mediterranean.
"Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys," the draft statement of EU leaders said.
The document, whose wording might still change, is not public but was seen by Reuters before the June 28-29 EU summit, where all 28 EU leaders will lock horns again over migration, an issue that has bitterly divided them.
Though arrival numbers have long been decreasing and are now low, migration has shot back to the top of Europe's political agenda also because German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner issued an ultimatum for an EU-wide deal on migration.
Otherwise, Berlin would introduce right after the summit a unilateral ban on refugees already registered in other EU states, said the junior governing Christian Social Union, which holds the interior ministry.
The EU border agency Frontex said more than 90 percent of those arriving in Italy, Greece and Spain register for asylum there. But they still often go north, including to Germany.
That phenomenon, known as "secondary movements", is against EU law but has been widespread since 2015, the peak of Europe's migration crisis.
"Secondary movements of asylum seekers between Member States put the integrity of the Asylum System severely at risk. Member States should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movements and to closely cooperate amongst each other to this end," the text said in an indirect response to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
The text is aimed at helping Rome and Berlin agree on migration at the summit.
As the bloc struggled to find a compromise on reforming its internal asylum rules - which broke down under 2015 arrivals - it has instead looked to tighten its borders and prevent people reaching its shores in the first place.
The EU has given aid and money to countries from Turkey and Jordan to Libya and Niger.
MOSCOW, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Germany’s surprise loss to Mexico could create a strange situation in Group G where England and Belgium may face a theoretically easier path to the last four if they finish second rather than top of the standings.
The winners of Group G - which also features Tunisia and Panama - will play a last-16 match against the Group H runners-up, Colombia, Japan, Senegal or Poland.
If that game is won the most likely quarter-final opponents would be five-times world champions Brazil.
The path for the runners-up was expected to lead to an equally difficult quarter-final against defending champions Germany, after a round of 16 game against the winners of Group H.
But as Germany are without a point after their opening match there is a chance the opponents waiting in the last eight could be potential Group F winners Mexico or possible Group E runners-up Serbia - tough but certainly preferable to Brazil.
England and Belgium meet in their final group game on June 28 in Kaliningrad and both could have booked their places in the next round by then - leaving the fixture to decide who finishes first and second.
Belgium beat Panama 3-0 in their opener Sunday and face Tunisia next. The Africans lost 2-1 to England who play Panama Sunday.
There are plenty more twists and turns possible, of course, and Germany are more than capable of recovering from their early setback and topping the group.
That would avoid a situation where England and Belgium face each other knowing defeat could be the best outcome.
MOSCOW, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Germany woke to gloomy headlines of “chaos” and “humiliation” on Monday after the defending World Cup champions fell 1-0 to Mexico in a shock opening defeat in Russia.
Long used to the dominance of their national team, Germans are digesting their team’s first defeat in a World Cup opening match in 36 years and wondering what will come next.
“Defensive chaos at the world champions,” splashed the country’s best-selling newspaper Bild across its sports section. “Now it is about survival at the World Cup.”
Berlin’s Morgenpost wrote, “Germany have lost their way.”
The Germans, World Cup winners in Brazil four years ago, were one of the pre-tournament favourites but the defeat means there will be no room for error when they face Sweden and South Korea in their remaining Group F games.
The four-time winners have reached at least the semi-finals at every World Cup since 2002.
“(Joachim) Loew does not want to change his plan,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. “Now Germany is under pressure.”
The German coach is in the crosshairs after sticking with a lacklustre Mesut Ozil instead of speedy in-form winger Marco Reus, and setting his team up in such a way that allowed the Mexicans to launch countless counter-attacks.
Loew, who has been in charge since 2006 and recently signed a contract extension to 2022, also raised eyebrows a few weeks ago when he did not include Leroy Sane, the English Premier League’s young player of the year, in his final World Cup squad.
“Past good practices don’t work anymore,” wrote the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “He cannot go on as he has done in the last 12 years.”
The Germans next play Sweden on June 23 before facing South Korea in their final group game four days later.
“The humiliation was homemade. Loew must now change direction,” said Die Welt.