German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked the EU to take in up to 1 million refugees from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq in a bid to halt the country’s economic decline and boost the countrys economy.
Read moreAt a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday, Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk agreed to boost the quota of refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan to 2 million.
Germany is one of the EU’s top-ranked refugee destinations with more than 8,000 migrants, most of them Syrians, arriving annually.
The EU is currently hosting more than a million migrants who have been granted asylum in the bloc since 2015.
The refugee quota was agreed in 2015.
Merkel is facing criticism from many quarters for her policy, which has been criticized for taking in people who have suffered horrific abuse, including sexual violence and rape.
Her government is under pressure from her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats to adopt more generous policies to ease the burden on Germany, which is already struggling to cope with a record number of migrants.
“The European Union should take in at least 1 million people from Syria, including women and children, and Afghans and Iraqis, as we are the most successful refugee-accepting countries in Europe,” Merkel said Thursday.
She also urged the bloc to agree a quota for refugees from other countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.
Tusk has said the number of refugees should be set at 1 million per country, but Merkel said the European Union must find a way to take a more sustainable number.
“We have to be open to other ideas, we have to listen to people,” Merkel told a news conference.
Tune in to The Washington Post to read the full transcript of Merkel’s comments.
The German government has been under pressure in recent weeks from Germany’s Social Democrats and other liberal parties to adopt a more generous asylum policy, but the policy is still unpopular among many voters.