Friday 19 January 2018

Angela Merkel calls for new rules for distributing asylum seekers in Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Yves Herman
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Yves Herman

Andrew Marszal

Europe needs to come up with a new system for distributing asylum seekers, said Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

The EU's current rules, known as the Dublin regulation, no longer work, she said on Friday.

Speaking at a campaign event in Bremerhaven ahead of state elections next month, Mrs Merkel said any system for distributing refugees should take account of the size of countries and the strength of their economies.

Read More: 'A stain on the conscience of our continent': EU ministers to discuss U-turn on search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean

The speech came a day after David Cameron flatly ruled out Britain taking part in an voluntary EU scheme to “resettle” north African migrants throughout the continent.

Mr Cameron told his counterparts at Thursday's emergency EU summit on the Mediterranean refugee crisis that the UK is already “playing its part” in the region through the aid budget and offer of ships, and takes in its “fair share” of refugees compared to other member states.

Read More: Tunisian accused in migrant boat disaster appears in Italian court

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, said earlier on Thursday that EU leaders must “sacrifice some national interests for the common good” by taking part in a “resettlement” programme.

However, Mr Cameron insisted any shipwreck victims picked up would be taken directly to Italy and not automatically offered asylum in the UK.

Matteo Renzi, the Italian PM, “accepted” Mr Cameron’s point in a meeting on Thursday.

Read More: No housing priority for asylum seekers says Justice Minister Fitzgerald

In 2014, Germany received 173,070 asylum applications, more than twice as many as any other EU country.

Britain received 31,260 that year, according to UNHCR.

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