Schengen under threat as Austria hits back at Merkel's migrant deal

German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

Horst Seehofer also leads the CSU party which has partnered with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats for seven decades.

A folksy master of Bavaria's conservative beer hall politics, Horst Seehofer has become the most unsafe critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration policies and the man who could end her reign.

Patzelt points out that what Merkel "sells as a threat to European integration" is considered by Seehofer and the CSU as a suitable means of stopping immigration to Germany and to Europe.

Seehofer wants to unilaterally turn back refugees already registered in other European Union (EU) member states, while Merkel opposes it and has been calling for a European solution.

Public anger and fear about the newcomers has given rise to the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which entered parliament previous year and threatens Seehofer's CSU in Bavarian state polls in October.

Seehofer had been in a showdown with the German Chancellor, offering his resignation on Sunday in protest over Merkel's reluctance to accept his plans to reverse the country's generous policies towards migrants.

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However, according to das Bild, Seehofer called the meeting on Saturday evening an "ineffective conversation".

Merkel, who has long favored open borders between European countries, agreed to allow "transit centers" along the Austrian border for the objective of screening asylum seekers.

In high-stakes crisis talks overnight, Merkel had put to rest a unsafe row with her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that had threatened the survival of her fragile coalition government.

The agreement still needs the approval of the Social Democrats.

To resounding laughter across the chamber he said: "I believe you would have smilingly deported Jesus". "Now that the CSU is behaving more aggressively towards Merkel and the CDU, those normally critical have come to her support".

Issues among the C.D.U. were precipitated by the surprising strength of the Alternative for Germany political party in the country's 2017 elections, which won 94 seats in the Bundestag after previously being unrepresented.

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"If this is agreed in Berlin, we will be forced to take action to prevent harm to Austria and its people", Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor said. They would either be sent back to European Union countries that previously registered them or, in case arrival countries reject this, be sent back to Austria, pending a now questionable agreement with Vienna.

The flashpoint issue was Seehofer's demand to order German border police to immediately turn back all asylum seekers already registered elsewhere in the European Union, and his threat to do so against Merkel's wishes.

SDP leader Andrea Nahles said the plan was worthless without bilateral deals with countries such as Italy and Austria.

He could defy her orders by ordering border police to carry out his plan, which would force her to fire him and nearly certainly break up the CDU-CSU alliance, or he could accept a humiliating climbdown or resign.

The idea of setting up centres at the border with Austria to process migrants is not new.

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