German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have called for a “unified” response the EU’s worst refugee since World War II.
“We must put in place a unified system for the right to asylum,” Hollande said in a brief statement ahead of talks, calling the influx from the world’s crisis zones “an exceptional situation that will last for some time”.
Merkel said Germany and France also wanted all EU members to conform with existing refugee policies governing the bloc “as quickly as possible”.
The German leader said she and Hollande were also in agreement that the EU must draw up a “unified” list of safe countries of origin to which people arriving in the bloc seeking asylum protection would be quickly returned.
Germany has been pushing for such a policy given the large portion of its asylum-seekers — 40 percent — coming from the Balkans.
Berlin argues that to help those from war zones such as Syria, Iraq and some regions of Africa, it needs to be able to filter out “economic migrants” more quickly.
Merkel reiterated that registration centres must be set up at the first ports of call in Greece and Italy to be administered and staffed by the EU as a whole by the end of the year.
“We cannot tolerate a delay,” she said.
Hollande underlined France’s “solidarity” with Germany in calling for a “fair distribution of asylum-seekers” within Europe as well as “the dignified return of people entering illegally.”
“It is a responsibility that can not be left to one particular country. It concerns all of Europe. We see the tensions that can arise, and I fully concur with the comments made by Angela Merkel about what happened in her country which has shocked us to the core,” said Hollande.
The Western Balkan migrant route to the EU pic.twitter.com/lUVfZukWiW— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 24, 2015