France and Germany call for obligatory refugee quotas

British Prime Minister promises the UK will "fulfill its moral responsibility" and that it would take thousands of refugees from UN camps on the Syrian border

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande call for permanent burden distribution system among EU member states
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande call for permanent burden distribution system among EU member states
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that the UK would accept thousands of refugees from UN camps in Syria
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that the UK would accept thousands of refugees from UN camps in Syria

France and Germany have called on the EU to force member countries to take obligatory quotas of refugees and asylum seekers, according to international media.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke of “sharing of duty … the principle of solidarity” while on a visit to Switzerland on Thursday and François Hollande, the French president, said there should be a “permanent and obligatory mechanism” for the accepting of refugees.

The declarations come in the midst of scuffles that broke out west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, after police tried to force migrants off a train at a refugee camp after a two day stand off where refugees were not allowed onto trains. Earlier on Thursday, migrants who had been camped outside Budapest's Keleti railway station hoping to travel to Germany, which had reviously announced it would allow refugees into the country, flocked onto the platforms as soon as police withdrew. International services were suspended at Budapest's station but hundreds crammed on to the first train hoping it would take them to the Austrian border, from where they could proceed to Germany.

Reports show that the train stopped at the Hungarian town of Bicske about 40km west of Budapest, which hosts a major refugee camp, where police lined the platforms and people were forced off the train into the camps.

Meanwhile, on the edge of the EU’s borders, the father of a Syrian boy, whose dead body washed up on shore, and whose image has touched the hearts of many, said he is preparing to take the bodies of his two sons and wife to be buried in his home town of Kobani.

Abdullah Kurdi said he no longer had any desire to continue on to Europe. Speaking outside the mortuary where his sons’ bodies were held, Kurdi said: “I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them.”

British prime minister, David Cameron, spoke of how moved he had been by the picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi. He said the UK would fulfil its moral responsibility and the Guardian reports that he has promised that the UK to take thousands of people from the UN camps on the Syrian border.

Hollande said the bilateral  proposal from Germany and France would be considered by the council of European interior ministers on 14th September.

“’What is happening today is not enough and there are countries that are not fulfilling their moral obligations,” Hollande said. “This [Franco-German] initiative involves asking the president of the [European] commission and the president of the [European] council and all our partners, so that we can put in place immigration policies worthy of what we represent.”

EU foreign ministers are to meet in Luxembourg on Friday. The German, French and Italian foreign ministers wrote to the chair of the meeting, Federica Mogherini the EU’s foreign policy coordinator, demanding a more equitable distribution of refugees across the union. The three countries have been urging the same since May, but a summit of EU leaders in June broke up in acrimony at 3.30am without agreement.

Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said Europe needed to move beyond its emotional response to the migrant crisis and take concrete action to address the humanitarian crisis.

“Europe cannot just get emotional, it has to move,” he said at a press conference in Florence on Thursday, where he was joined by Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat.

Renzi, who has been on the frontlines of the migration crisis, with Italy seeing an influx of more than 100,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East this year, suggested that the rest of the EU was finally waking up to the scale of the crisis – a problem that the two leaders had been dealing with for months without much support from other EU countries.

Renzi has pleaded for more support and help to address the situation for months, without tangible results. At the heart of his argument is that European unity is at stake if the arrival of refugees on Italian and Greek shores continued to be seen as a local, rather than a Europe-wide, problem.

In a major policy speech on Europe’s worst migration emergency, President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European commission is to table proposals next Wednesday for the mandatory sharing of 160,000 refugees between 26 of the EU’s 28 countries.

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