Merkel calls for mandatory refugee quotas for EU states to comba -

Merkel calls for mandatory refugee quotas for EU states to combat crisis

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By Laura Smith-Spark

 (CNN) - All European Union member states need to step up and shoulder their share of responsibility for the growing number of refugees and migrants pouring into Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.

As Europe struggles to come to grips with the crisis, Merkel called for mandatory quotas to be set for each country to take a share of the refugees pouring into Europe, many from war-torn Syria.

The crisis has to be solved in the spirit of European solidarity, Merkel said, speaking at a Berlin press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Sweden and Germany are taking on a high measure of responsibility, Merkel said, and a common European asylum policy has to be put into practice. 

She also said that the current international treaty setting out countries' responsibility for taking in refugees was no longer up to date, and that neither Greece nor Italy could take in all those crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of sanctuary. 

What is needed are mandatory quotas, which must be divided fairly, Merkel said. At the moment, Europe is far from that fair division, she added.

Some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, are strongly opposed to any proposal for mandatory quotas, arguing that they don't have the necessary resources.

Merkel's government has said Germany expects to receive some 800,000 asylum applications this year. The country could take 500,000 refugees each year for "several years," the vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has said,

Thousands of predominantly Syrian refugees have arrived in Germany over the past few days, passing through Hungary and Austria after making an overland journey north through the Balkans.

Border flashpoint

The huge influx into Hungary prompted a crisis last week as Hungarian authorities sought to apply EU rules on registering newly arrived refugees in the first EU state they reach. 

Faced by scenes of chaos as refugees couldn't travel onward from Hungary, Germany and Austria decided to relax the rules and let thousands of people in over the weekend without going through the usual process.

While that move eased the bottleneck in Budapest, the stream of migrants has kept coming.

A trash-strewn field along the Hungarian-Serbian border became the latest flashpoint Monday as people grew weary of waiting for days in primitive conditions to resume their journey to safety.

On the same day, Austria and Germany warned they can't keep up with the influx of refugees and said they must begin to slow the pace. 

More than 16,000 migrants have streamed into Austria since Saturday, Burgenland state police spokesman Wolfgang Bachkoenig said Monday. Virtually all continued to Germany, where the city of Munich had received more than 17,500 people, police said. 

"We must now, step by step, go from emergency measures to a normality that is humane and complies with the law," Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said.

Uncertain futures

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, estimates that more than 366,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year. 

At least 2,800 have died or disappeared during the journey. Those who make the crossing face uncertain futures in European nations, which differ in their approach to asylum-seekers.

EU countries have an open-border policy that allows the free movement of people between member states. 

While Germany, France and other countries are opening their doors to more migrants, countries such as Hungary are clamping down on the flow. Hungary's government has ordered the building of a barbed wire fence along its border with Serbia, a non-EU state. 

CNN's Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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