The head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian sister party has called for an annual cap of 200,000 on the number of refugees entering Germany, less than a fifth of the number that arrived in 2015, mass circulation newspaper Bild reported Sunday.
Horst Seehofer, head of Bavaria's Christian Social Union and formerly Merkel's most important ally in southern Germany, said that past experience showed that the country could successfully integrate between 100,000 and 200,000 migrants each year.
"Everything above that is too much," he told the newspaper, adding that there would be an additional 500,000 migrants both arriving from within the European Union and as a result of skilled labour migration actively pursued by Germany.
Seehofer, the most powerful politician in Bavaria, has become a thorn in Merkel's side amid intense pressure from his conservative constituents to stem the unprecedented influx of migrants, many of whom are entering the country through its southern border.
"In December, a daily average of 4,000 refugees entered Bavaria - projected on to a whole year, that would amount to 1.5 million. That is more than in 2015 and would not be manageable under any circumstances," he said.
Bavarian officials have said that 1.1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Germany over the course of 2015. The majority of the new arrivals is fleeing conflict in the Middle East.