France and Germany demand fewer refugees under EU's asylum seeker quota plan

The countries have called for revision of a plan that sees them taking 40 per cent of total refugees

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European countries other than France and Germany should bear more of the burden of taking in asylum seekers from the Mediterranean, the governments of those two nations have said.

The European Commission is drawing up plans for a revised EU framework for deciding which countries take in asylum seekers.

Most asylum seekers currently have a right to stay in the country where they make landfall in Europe; in the case of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat the vast bulk end up in Italy or Greece.

Most EU countries have agreed the system should change to spread the task of caring for migrants more widely.

But current plans would see France and Germany take around 40 per cent of the total asylum seekers, an increase which has led their governments to raise objections.

“This distribution [plan] must above all take better account of the efforts already made by member states on international protection,” a joint Franco-German statement said.

Any revision of the plan could potentially see the United Kingdom, another one of the most populous countries in the EU, taking more migrants.

The joint call comes after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that David Cameron did not want to leave the EU.

“Brexit is not a question which arises, it’s not desired by the British,” Mr Juncker told Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “Cameron wants to dock his country permanently to Europe.”

Mr Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union by the end of 2017, though he hinted at a recent international summit that it could be brought forward.

The plan to change the rules on refugee quotas was brought forward after a number of high-profile catastrophes regarding migrants crossing from north Africa.

The EU last year ended a search and rescue operation to rescue migrants who got into trouble on the crossings, a decision which was followed by a dramatic increase in deaths.

The British government supported the end of search and rescue operations at the time. Before the general election the PM said Britain would contribute to a renewed rescue effort but that Britain should not take more refugees.

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