VIENNA (Reuters) - Europe should set a limit on the number of refugees it takes in and seek out those most clearly entitled to protection, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard.
In remarks published a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel, a fellow conservative, pledged to stick to her open-door refugee policy, de Maiziere said Europe should commit to “a generous concluding intake of refugees”, but did not provide a number.
“When the quota is filled, there are no further entries in the year,” he said when asked how his proposal would work. “Truly needy cases — from Syria, from Iraq — will be jointly sought out.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said this week that Europe could no longer accommodate more refugees.
De Maiziere said his idea would have to be combined with better protection of the European Union’s external borders, and could help overcome resistance from some EU member states to the redistribution of refugees across the bloc.
“With many, the refusal comes from the fact that they cannot be sure that those coming are entitled to protection, and that they fear that a number without an upper limit is coming,” he said.
“But if we limit the number and distribute those entitled to protection, then I no longer see it being as difficult as in the discussion until now,” de Maiziere added.
Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Dominic Evans