Germany, France urge EU to do more

At a press conference in Berlin, Angela Merkel said that while Germany was doing its bit, "it is time for the EU to pull its weight," and show the "solidarity" that is needed

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:00 am IST

Published - September 07, 2015 07:15 pm IST - London

Migrants eat at a makeshift mensa at the fair ground of Munich, Germany September 7, 2015.

Migrants eat at a makeshift mensa at the fair ground of Munich, Germany September 7, 2015.

Germany and France have called the European Union nations to step up to their responsibilities towards refugees who are streaming into Europe by the thousands.

At a televised press conference in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while Germany was doing its bit, “it is time for the European Union to pull its weight,” and show the “solidarity” that is needed if the refugee crisis is to be handled in the humanitarian spirit that underlies the European Union. Promising to speed up asylum procedures and build extra housing, she said that Germany has pledged to spend Euro 6 billion.

Chancellor Merkel – whose pro-refugee interventions have been praised by human rights groups and by refugees populations who call her “Mama Merkel” – has for long been pressing for EU quotas on taking in asylum seekers. The French President Francoise Holland who announced that France would accept 24,000 refugees this year under a plan by the European Commission joined her today in her appeal for a joint European response. Mr. Holland backed Chancellor Merkel’s support for a joint EU strategy under which each of the 28 countries of the EU would be obliged to accept its fair share of migrants.

According to Reuters citing an unnamed EU source, the EU executive has drawn up a new set of national quotas. Under this Germany will take in more than 40,000 and France 30,000 of a total of 160,000 asylum-seekers it says should be relocated from Italy, Greece and Hungary, a EU source said on Monday.

The proposals are due to be announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later this week.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron today announced in Parliament that his government will take in 20,000 refugees over five years, a figure that will disappoint those who were hoping that his recent promise of taking in “thousands of refugees” would translate into a much larger figure. Mr. Cameron would not give a figure of how many he would take this year as a direct response to the ongoing refugee crisis. He further said that Britain’s intake would not come from refugee groups already in Europe, but from refugee camps on the borders of Syria.

Austria, which had suspended border checks after photographs were published of the Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach, said it planned to end these emergency measures. Chancellor Werner Faymann said that Austria will now "move step by step away from emergency measures towards normality, in conformity with the law and dignity."

Meanwhile, there has been no let up in the flow of migrants over the weekend. Germany alone received 20,000 migrants over Saturday and Sunday, with another 11,000 are expected on Monday. While public responses to their entry has been largely positive – in Munich railway station for example, refugees were greeted with ovations, flowers and chocolates – not everyone is offering as warm a welcome. In Dortmund, for example, far-right extremists staged a demonstration at the city’s central station, and there have been reports of sporadic attacks on individuals and refugee hostels by far right groups.

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