Berlin: Germany and France in agreement on refugee policy

The German government rejected Monday any suggestion of a rift between Berlin and Paris over refugee policy.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ruled out on the weekend the introduction of a permanent quota system for distributing refugees across Europe, which appeared to place Paris at odds with a key part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migration policy.

But Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert insisted: "There is considerable agreement between France and Germany." Paris is Berlin's key ally.

Seibert went on to say that it was still too early to consider agreeing to additional quotas above the 160,000 that had already being decided for distribution in 2015.

The comments from Merkel's spokesman come as she prepares to fly to Brussels for a key European leaders summit on migration, which is set for Thursday and Friday this week.

The chancellor needs to win EU backing for her refugee plans to help head off a damaging row in her conservative political block over asylum policy and to fulfil her pledge of "a drastic reduction" in new arrivals this year.

In addition to her proposals for EU member states sharing the burden of the refugees arriving in Europe, Merkel wants the member states to agree to measures to strengthen the Brussels-based bloc's external borders and to combat illegal migration.

Speaking at a weekend conference in Munich, Valls said that France was not prepared to take more than the 30,000 refugees it had agreed to under last year's 160,000 refugee distribution plan.

Seibert welcomed Valls' remarks as a sign that France would stand by its commitments.

He said that any decision on additional quotas would be agreed to when signs had emerged that illegal migration had been significantly reduced.

"We want to implement things step by step," said Seibert, adding the focus of efforts should be on securing the EU's external borders.

Valls' weekend comments on refugees were not the first time that the French prime minister has spoken out about Europe's migration crisis.

Last month he warned about the threat posed to Europe by the large influx of refugees.

Last update: Mon, 15/02/2016 - 17:35
Author: 

More from Europe

One dead after central Italy hit by series of quakes

One person was killed on Wednesday when a building collapsed during four powerful quakes that shook central Italy on...

Boris Johnson compares French president to WWII prison guard

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday compared Francois Hollande to a World War II prison guard after...

Merkel pledges to hold Europe together after Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Wednesday to hold the European Union together after Britain's planned...

Slovenia looks to capitalize on its connection to Melania Trump

As Donald Trump campaigned for the Oval Office, his Slovenian-born wife Melania did not receive much love and...

EC recommends Croatia's gradual integration into Schengen Information System

The European Commission on Wednesday made a recommendation to the Council of the European Union to gradually...