BERLIN: Germany and France on Monday urged the EU to find a fairer way to admit and distribute asylum seekers, as their leaders met the European Commission chief in Berlin.
The Greek debt crisis and the threat of Britain leaving the EU were also sure to occupy minds as Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted President Francois Hollande and Jean-Claude Juncker for a working dinner.
Officially the mini-summit brought together the leaders of the eurozone’s two biggest economies and the EU executive with around 20 heads of large European companies to discuss economic challenges in the digital age.
The three leaders did not touch on refugees, Greece or Britain in brief press statements at the start of the meeting, which Juncker said would discuss the growth and jobs potential of a future “digital single market” in the 28-nation bloc.
The get-together came hours after a joint call by Paris and Berlin for the EU to revise its plan to admit asylum seekers landing on Europe’s shores, amid a spike in arrivals from war zones such as Syria and some poverty-stricken African countries.
Decrying an insufficient “balance”, the German and French interior ministers said in a joint statement that “deep discussions” were needed, along with “exercising responsibility, solidarity and fairer burden-sharing”.
Last week, the European Commission asked member states to admit 20,000 Syrian refugees from outside Europe and process another 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea landing in Italy and Greece.
Which EU countries would take them in would depend on factors such as national economic output, population and unemployment rates.
France and Germany said in the joint statement that they currently were among five member states, along with Sweden, Italy and Hungary, who “are in charge of 75 percent of the asylum seekers”.