German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an impassioned speech on Thursday that migration could be a "make or break" issue for the European Union ahead of a critical EU summit.
According to CNN, Merkel pressed the German parliament to back a tough but humane asylum and migration policy for the European Union, warning that if Germany fails to support that, migration issues could define Europe's destiny.
EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a European Council summit that was supposed to focus on Brexit.
Instead, with little progress on that front and high profile disagreements over the fate of migrants rescued at sea, migration has come to the fore. In a striking appeal to her own parliament for European solidarity, Merkel unpicked some of the most contentious problems pitting members of the European Union against each other.
"Those who come to Europe cannot choose which EU country they want to seek asylum in," she said."Secondly, we cannot leave those countries where asylum seekers arrive to deal with (the problem) alone. If we do not get an agreement with the 28 EU member states, we will then need to consider a coalition of the willing on migrant policy. We need to find better solutions."
Merkel urged against states acting unilaterally on migration, insisting that Europe needs to remain true to its multilateral values.
Merkel also pointed out that the number of asylum seekers coming to Europe had fallen dramatically and that it was now time for Europe to return to the migration policy it had before 2015.
Germany would push to strengthen Europe's external borders as well as seek agreements with African nations "similar to the agreement made with Turkey" on the return of rejected asylum seekers, she said.
Merkel conceded that her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer was right to push for a plan that reduces irregular migration and that high-profile criminal cases involving asylum seekers showed the need for tougher deportations.
Seehofer, whose disagreements with Merkel over migration briefly threatened to bring down her government earlier this month, was not present for the speech. A German Interior Ministry spokeswoman told CNN he had "other appointments to take care of."
CNN concludes that by making this speech before, rather than after the summit Merkel may hope to have taken the wind out of the sails from her hardline critics such as Seehofer.