Refugee crisis: Angela Merkel agrees to tighten asylum rules to stem numbers arriving in Germany

New rules will reduce family reunions for refugees and speed up deportations of failed applicants

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The Independent Online

Germany has agreed new laws to tighten rules for incoming refugees. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel reached an agreement with her coalition partners on Thursday evening to speed up deportations. 

The new measures also include a two-year ban on family reunions for asylum seekers who are granted limited refugee protection, said Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, announcing the deal.

The coalition partners have also agreed that people from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia will not have an automatic right to asylum as these countries have been deemed “safe”.

The government also announced plans to accept more refugees from the camps in Turkey and Lebanon.

Mr Gabriel told reporters the mood “was good” between the coalition partners despite weeks of tension over Bavaria based Christian Social Union’s leader Horst Seehofer's threat to take the government to court if they do not stem the flow of refugees.

Angela Merkel has been forced to reverse her 'open door' policy towards refugees

Ms Merkel’s “open-door” policy towards refugees has come under fire in recent weeks following the sex attacks on women in Cologne by suspected refugees on New Year’s Eve.  

German towns and cities have said they are struggling to cope with the influx of 1.1m refugees who have arrived in the country over the past year. 

700 people crossed the German border from Austria every day over the past - down from an average of 2,000 people a day earlier this year. 

German officials have warned of a fresh spike in numbers when the weather improves. 

Mr Gabriel said the new bill would deter illegal immigration. 

Additional reporting by Reuters