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European Commission analyzing German deal on refugee row

The European Commission is analyzing a German deal on migration after Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious interior minister reached a compromise on a refugee dispute that threatened to disintegrate her coalition government.

Late on Monday, Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union settled the row over a refugee policy that had threatened to topple her government.

Under the compromise, refugees who have already applied for asylum in other European Union countries will be held in transit centers on the border while Germany negotiates bilateral deals for their return.

Asked whether the German deal was in line with the EU laws or not, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday that the legal service of the European Commission was looking at it.

The official also said the EU law on asylum procedures did envisage “transit zones” on the member states’ soil, where asylum seekers could be handled.

Separately, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a news conference on the sidelines of a European Parliament session in Strasbourg that the German ruling coalition’s deal on migration seemed in line with the law.

“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.”

Diplomats in Brussels said the 28-nation 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.

Merkel reached the compromise with rebellious Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has been pushing for tougher measures on illegal immigration and presented the deal as a victory.