"After an intensive discussion about the biggest challenge facing the European Union, namely migration, it is a good signal that we have agreed on a joint text," Merkel said after the meeting. "We still have much to do to bridge the different views."
Although many of the details in the communiqué were vague at best, perhaps his greatest achievement was to confirm that EU solidarity is the only way to prevent turning back on the 2015 migration crisis, with hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers unchecked to Europe streamed.
But for Merkel, this formulation was crucial: "Member States should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such a move and cooperate closely for this purpose."
Merkel delivered and the CSU is already there to make positive voices.
"The EU summit has taken a big step towards a better migration policy: Europe stands for humanity towards people in need, determination to protect the external borders and the fight against illegal migration, as well as for solidarity with each other," tweeted CSU party leader Manfred Weber. "The EU shows its ability to act."
But there are still serious questions about how – or if – this agreement can be implemented. And Merkel will need concrete results to ward off the future challenges of her leadership.
The main concession that Italy demanded was to transfer responsibility for rescue operations in the Mediterranean to the Libyan Coast Guard, including "regional disembarkation platforms" to be set up in Africa.
But Libya did not agree with this proposal, and many observers doubt it can work.
Gerald Knauss of the European Stability Institute – one of the original authors of the Turkey-EU Immigration Agreement – told CNN: "The problem is, no one can explain: Why should one of these countries agree to this? What to do? Asylum to Libyan or Tunisian Is it even legal if they are unsure there Libya is impossible It is so uncertain that we do not even have messages there! It is a far-fetched idea. "
Even within the EU, the promise to set up "controlled centers" for "fast and secure processing" of asylum applications works, theoretically, but not practically – not least because such centers are set up only in countries, these volunteers to them to build. It is expected that this offer will cover only a few interested parties.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of migrants are still stranded in Greece after Europe closes its borders in 2016, and it is not clear what the EU will do differently to improve it.
The deal does nor against the problem of the distribution of refugees already in the EU. Often the words "voluntary" and "shared" are used, but it is not explained on what basis the EU countries will resume the refugees. Germany's earlier proposal of binding quotas for each EU country was openly rejected by countries such as Hungary and Poland.
It does not bode well for Merkel's political future. Their opponents at home are looking at regional elections this year and will be looking for ways to earn political points at their expense. And after more than twelve years as Chancellor, Merkel will fend off more and more of her younger rivals in her own party.
"This can be repeated in two weeks, three weeks, there are many political rivals who want to get rid of the Chancellor, so they will study these mistakes and learn from them," warned German political analyst Timo Lochoki.
"If she continues in this style, in which she is getting smaller and smaller, she can postpone a political disaster, but she can not prevent it."