Hollande dissents with Merkel on EU migrant intake quotas

French president refuses migrant quotas but backs better distribution among EU countries as he meets with German chancellor in Berlin

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

As the leaders of Germany and France met in Berlin on Tuesday, the issue of EU migrant policies came to fore since refugee boats have been capsizing off around Libya and Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea in the past several years.

French President Francois Hollande expressed France’s concerns on the issue as he opposed migrant intake quotas which he said “out of the question,” but backed a plan to better distribute migrants among the EU member countries.

"It's out of the question to have immigrant quotas because we have rules on border checks and policies for overseeing immigration," said Hollande in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.

"People who come because they think that Europe is a prosperous continent, even when they are not hired by companies... must be escorted back, that's the rule," Hollande told reporters. "So one cannot talk of quotas, there can't be quotas for these migrants," he added.

Hollande urged other EU countries to take their responsibilities about the massive flow of migrant and refugees from the third world countries en route to Europe.

"We must ensure that other European countries can also play their part. This is what we call distribution," Hollande said.

Angela Merkel also underlined the significance of the migrant issue for the EU by emphasising that there was a long way to go as she hopes France and Germany would converge soon on the EU’s refugee problem.

“There are many questions that deserve examination, including how to deal with people who don't have the possibility of asking for political asylum,” Merkel said. "I am sure that on that we will have a Franco-German position soon," she added.

The European Commission has recently proposed an action plan on asylum and immigration that ensures the burden of 20,000 migrants intake among the EU member states.

The proposed document settles migrant quotas in accordance with the EU countries’ GDP level, population and number of migrants already living in those countries.  

So far almost 10 countries in the EU bloc including the UK, Hungary, Spain as well as France raised their objections to the action plan presented by the Commission.

This year over 1800 migrants and refugees have drowned when they were traversing Mediterranean for heading into the continental Europe.

International rights groups and civil society organisations accuse the EU of its negligence about the migrants’ overseas navigation in the Mediterranean based on the fact that refugee boat accidents have dramatically increased in the recent years.

The EU approved last week a mission to tackle with the issue through destroying the migrant boats used for human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

But the United Nations put its reserves on EU’s decision to submerge vessels because of some humanitarian and military reasons which oblige to get a permission from the UN Security Council.

Chancellor Merkel also highlighted the issue and stated that the EU’s struggle with human traffickers should be operated on the basis of international law for that the Security Council decision is keenly needed in order to cope with the problem in the Mediterranean.

TRTWorld and agencies