Merkel calls for flexibility in EU migrant quotas

8th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday a European Commission plan to relocate refugees from overstretched EU states was "an important first step" but urged the bloc to be flexible when sharing out migrant quotas.

"We need an open (-ended) system to share out those with a right to asylum," Merkel said after talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday is set to unveil proposals for mandatory quotas for EU states.

Under the plan, 120,000 refugees would be relocated from frontline states, according to a European source. France and Germany would take about half.

Merkel cautioned against setting rigid ceilings, given conditions on the ground.

"There is another step that needs to be taken because neither Germany nor Sweden can determine the number of refugees, given that this stems from the situation," Merkel said.

Many states including Hungary are opposed to quotas on other grounds.

An earlier Juncker plan for mandatory relocation of 40,000 refugees was rejected by EU member states at a summit in June.

At the time they agreed to take in 32,000 on a voluntary basis.

Merkel also said the so-called Dublin 3 rule -- which requires the first EU port of entry to process asylum claims -- "no longer works" as it means that both Italy and Greece are left to take in the bulk of Europe's refugee influx.

"We must discuss a new asylum policy," she said.

Berlin has already stopped applying the rule for Syrians, and is allowing citizens of the war-torn country to apply for asylum in Germany regardless of their first port of arrival in the EU.

© 2015 AFP

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