Germany, Austria call for special EU summit on refugees: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany and Austria called for a special European summit on the migrant crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany and Austria called for a special European summit on the migrant crisis.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP, REUTERS) - Germany and Austria on Tuesday (Sept 15) called for a special European summit on the migrant crisis, in a phone call with EU president Donald Tusk, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"It is a problem for the entire European Union and therefore we argued for a special EU summit to be held next week," she said during a joint press conference with Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann.

"Donald Tusk will look into that." Slovakia's prime minister echoed the call for EU to hold a special summit to deal with the biggest migration crisis in Europe since World War II.

Meanwhile, Germany urged the European Union to consider imposing financial penalties on states that refuse to take in their share of asylum seekers, as the influx of refugees showed no sign of abating on Tuesday despite new border controls.

In a veiled threat that drew an angry response from eastern European states that have resisted EU plans to share out refugees, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said these were the same countries that received funding from the bloc.

Facing opposition from ex-Communist states, EU ministers failed on Monday to break a deadlock over sharing responsibility for accepting some of the hundreds of thousands who have sought asylum in Europe.

De Maiziere said the EU was still some way from agreeing long-term quotas for refugees. "So I think we must talk about ways of exerting pressure," he told ZDF television, adding that some of the countries that opposed quotas were the beneficiaries of structural funds - EU money allocated to help poorer regions catch up with wealthier areas.

A senior Czech official said threats to cut such funding had no basis in law. "German threats that central Europe will be punished by cutting cohesion funds are empty but very damaging to all," Tomá Prouza, the Czech State Secretary for the EU, said.

Slovakia insisted it would never support mandatory refugee quotas. In response to Germany's proposal, Prime Minister Robert Fico said that never before had a country been punished for having a different opinion. Taking such a step would mean "the end of the EU", he said.

De Maiziere stuck to his forecast that 800,000 refugees would arrive in Germany this year, despite some politicians saying there could be as many as one million.