• Germany's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3
Large majority of Europeans back Merkel on refugee quota
Refugees travelling through Macedonia. Photo: DPA

Large majority of Europeans back Merkel on refugee quota

Jörg Luyken · 19 Feb 2016, 11:01

Published: 19 Feb 2016 11:01 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Since the summer Merkel has been desperately campaigning for an EU-wide quota system for divvying up refugees among member states.

And at an EU summit taking place in Brussels on Friday she once again finds herself fighting a lonely battle for solidarity on the issue.

Her efforts have come up against a stone wall of eastern European resistance, and the trial quota system agreed in September is yet to be implemented.

But a survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation shows that a large majority of Europeans back Merkel's proposals - and this enthusiasm is even shared in the states which are fighting Merkel in Brussels.

The study showed that 79 percent of Europeans believe the EU should have a common migration policy, with 52 percent of people believing member states should surrender sovereignty on this issue to Brussels.

The same number of people (79 percent) said that asylum seekers should be distributed fairly among member states, with 69 percent agreeing that states which do not comply should be punished through the withdrawal of EU financial aid.

While this enthusiasm for a collective policy was strongest in the founding member states, a majority of respondents (54 percent) in the eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 also said they were in favour of a quota system.

DON'T MISS: Five things on Merkel's to-do list to save Europe

This public sense of solidarity rubs up against the hawkishness of governments in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia - the so-called Visegrad Four - who have refused to take in their share of refugees under a trail quota system.

On the other hand, just 41 percent of people in new member states thought that countries which refuse to take their quota should be punished financially.

There was also widespread support for the principle of freedom of movement, currently threatened by Britain's demands to block welfare for EU migrants and border controls and fences springing up all along the refugee route, from Sweden in the North all the way to Croatia in the South.

A total of 79 percent of respondents said that they consider freedom of movement of great importance to the EU and that it should be defended at all costs.

In another ringing endorsement of Merkel's call for solidarity, 87 percent of respondents said the EU said it had a duty to protect its external borders.

Speaking to the German parliament on Tuesday, Merkel said one of her key objectives was to protect the maritime borders of the European Union, rubbishing eastern European calls to build a border fence in Macedonia to prevent refugees travelling north from Greece.

"A continent that can't agree with its neighbours about this, that hides behind fences some distance back from the real border, that can't be the European solution. I am firmly convinced of that," Merkel said.

In general, public support for further integration of member states in order to cope with these problems grew 2 percent on July 2015 to 60 percent, the survey revealed.

Germans want stricter quota rules

Germans contacted by the pollsters were most likely to favour a quota system and punishment of states which do not comply.

A total of 91 percent of German respondents said they believed asylum seekers should be distributed fairly between member  states.

Along with  Italians, that was the most comprehensive approval among respondents from the six largest countries in the EU (Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Spain and Poland).

Similarly 84 percent of Germans said that states which do not comply with quota rules should be punished financially. By contrast only 36 percent of Poles agreed with this statement.

But Germans also displayed a reluctance to be too liberal in granting asylum requests. Only 37 percent said the state should act generously, the lowest proportion of respondents in the six largest EU members.

The survey was conducted in December 2015 in all 28 member states with a sample of 11,410 EU citizens.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Today's headlines
Teen's murder-rape arrest reignites refugee debate
Flowers and candles set up in Freiburg to honour the student found dead. Photo: DPA.

The German government pleaded for calm on Monday after the arrest of a teenage Afghan asylum seeker for the alleged rape and murder of a German student triggered fresh criticism of the country's liberal refugee policy.

China criticizes US for blocking sale of German firm
Aixtron's headquarter in Herzogenrath in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

The US is reportedly worried that China could use the firm's technology in its nuclear programme.

Germany should deport sick refugees: Merkel party mate
Rejected asylum seekers in Leipzig being taken to the airport. Photo: DPA.

A top member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party on Monday defended his proposal for Germany to deport sick refugees after receiving harsh criticism.

Rail worker jailed over train crash that killed 12
Rescue workers at the scene of the crash. Photo: DPA

A German rail dispatcher who admitted that his negligence caused a train crash that killed 12 people has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Why Germany is worried by Italy's referendum result
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after a crushing referendum defeat on Sunday. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel lost a key ally on Sunday night.

These are Berlin's seven most exquisite restaurants
Two-star chef Tim Raue. Photo: DPA.

The capital city still hasn't managed to snag three stars in the new 2017 Michelin guide released on Thursday, but it still boasts seven two-star eateries. Here's a look at what they have to offer.

Austrian vote a 'good omen for Europe': German minister
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said that the far-right defeat in Austria's presidential election was "a good omen" for Europe.

VW bosses forced to pay back private jet costs

Bosses at troubled German auto giant Volkswagen have been forced to pay the company back millions of euros for flights on its private jets, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.

Germany arrests Marxist militant 'leader'
Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / DPA / AFP file picture

A radical Marxist suspected of belonging to a left-wing extremist group accused of terrorism by Turkey has been arrested in Germany, judicial sources said on Saturday.

Afghan teen arrested over German murder-rape
Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / DPA / AFP file picture

A teenage Afghan asylum seeker has been arrested on suspicion of the rape and murder of a 19-year-old female student in Germany, police and prosecutors said Saturday.

Lifestyle
10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Lifestyle
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
National
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
National
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
Lifestyle
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
National
This is how unequal German society has become
National
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
National
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
National
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
Features
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
Culture
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
Lifestyle
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
International
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
National
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
National
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
Education
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Travel
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
Lifestyle
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
National
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
Culture
10 German books you have to read before you die
Culture
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Features
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Travel
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
6,552
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd