Germany said on Monday that other European nations must do more to help the thousands of refugees fleeing war zones.
After a weekend in which 20,000 migrants entered Germany from Hungary by train, bus and on foot, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the influx as “breathtaking” and urged other nations to do their bit and take in more refugees, Reuters reported.
“I am happy that Germany has become a country that many people outside of Germany now associate with hope,” Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin.
But she and her vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, coupled their message of optimism with a warning to European Union partners who have resisted a push to agree quotas for refugees flowing in mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What isn’t acceptable in my view is that some people are saying this has nothing to do with them,” Merkel said. “This won’t work in the long run. There will be consequences although we don’t want that.”
Gabriel said that if countries in eastern Europe and elsewhere continued to resist accepting their fair share of refugees, the bloc’s open border regime, known as Schengen, would be at risk.
“This would be a dramatic political blow for Europe, but also a heavy economic blow, also for those countries that are saying they don’t want to help now,” he said.
Only months after Europe narrowly averted a Greek exit from the euro zone, the refugee crisis has emerged as the bloc’s biggest challenge.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to unveil new proposals on Wednesday on how to distribute refugees among member states.
An EU source told Reuters that under his plan, Germany would take on more than 40,000 and France 30,000 of the 160,000 asylum seekers the Commission says need to be relocated from Italy, Greece and Hungary, the main entry points to the EU for refugees arriving by sea and land.
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