Chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to spend an extra 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) on refugees next year in Germany as European officials prepared a proposal to relocate thousands of migrants throughout the region.
Merkel said on Monday that Germany will add 3 billion euros to the 2016 federal budget and provide another 3 billion euros to states and municipalities to tackle Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. The chancellor said “it’s not entirely implausible” that her country will need an extra 10 billion euros in total next year.
The added funding comes as the region’s leaders bicker over how best to respond to the growing influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty, with Germany and Austria pushing for country-by-country quotas across the 28-member European Union. Hungary and others in eastern Europe oppose such measures and have pursued a more hard-line approach to deter refugees.
“It’s high time for finding a joint position,” Merkel said on Monday. “We will work to make that one of the grand projects of the European Union in the years ahead.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will announce a proposal on Wednesday to relocate 120,000 migrants in Italy, Greece and Hungary to countries throughout the EU, according to an EU official who asked not to be identified discussing proposals that are not yet public.
The U.K., Ireland and Denmark won’t be included because they have an opt-out on immigration policy, the official said. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that Britain will resettle as many as 20,000 refugees over the next five years taken directly from camps in the Middle East. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in Copenhagen that he offered to Merkel to take 100 of the asylum seekers who have arrived in Germany from Hungary.
Juncker’s plan will include 6,000 euros in funding per refugee for the country taking them in and provide 500 euros per migrant to the nation where they enter the EU, with countries that refuse to participate having to pay additional fees linked to their GDP, the official said.
The list of nations free of political persecution to which people can be safely returned will expand to include EU candidate countries in the western Balkans and Turkey, a move meant to speed up the deportation of those unlikely to get asylum, the person said.
The proposal will need the backing of a qualified majority of EU members to take effect and is likely to meet stiff opposition from Hungary and others in eastern Europe, which argue that quotas will simply encourage more to come.
“I can’t repeat our message to migrants often enough: ‘Please don’t come because we won’t let you through,’” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Budapest. “New laws passed by parliament will change our border-defense system. Illegal border crossing will automatically trigger imprisonment or expulsion.”
Orban has built a razor-wire fence along the frontier with Serbia, beefed up the number of police and soldiers along the border and pushed through laws making it easier to immediately deport anyone entering from countries deemed “safe” and making it a crime to cross the border illegally.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said Sunday that his country was ending emergency measures that allowed the passage of thousands of migrants over the weekend from Hungary without registering. Austria and Germany on Friday temporarily suspended EU rules that require migrants to register and stay in the EU country where they first enter, allowing the refugees to travel on trains to Munich.
“Accommodating war refugees means a binding system,” Faymann said Monday in Bratislava, Slovakia. “During World War II, we were happy that refugees found a new home. Imagine that they all would have been sent back to the Nazis. We don’t want that.”
Faymann was in Bratislava to meet Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Czech Premier Bohuslav Sobotka to discuss the influx of migrants. The eastern European leaders oppose a quota system, while Faymann wants the countries to take on more refugees.
“An uncontrolled inflow of migrants represents a security risk” Fico told reporters. “It makes sense in Slovakia to accept only a person who will be able to fully integrate.”