INTERNATIONAL

Germany, France urge EU to do more

he leaders of Germany and France have called on the European Union (EU) nations to step up to their responsibilities towards refugees who are streaming into Europe in thousands.

At a televised press conference in Berlin on Monday, 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 €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, Francois Hollande, who announced that France would accept 24,000 refugees this year under a plan by the European Commission, joined Ms. Merkel in her appeal for a joint European response. Mr. Hollande 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 asylum-seekers.

According to a Reuters report 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, an EU source said on Monday.

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

Britain to take in 20,000

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.