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France to take 24,000 refugees, Hollande warns of Schengen 'collapse'

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France to take 24,000 refugees, Hollande warns of Schengen 'collapse'

Schengen Grenze Bayern Tirol - Photo by BlueMars

(PARIS) - President Francois Hollande said Monday France would take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years and warned that without a united EU policy to share the burden of migrants, the borderless Schengen system would collapse.

Hollande also offered to host an international conference on Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The president said the European Commission was preparing to unveil a proposal for mandatory quotas for EU states to relocate 120,000 refugees, "which for France will represent 24,000 people. We will do it."

Speaking at his bi-annual press conference, Hollande warned that without a properly functioning EU mechanism to share migrants among member states, the borderless Schengen zone risked collapse.

"If there is not a united policy, this mechanism will not work, it will collapse, and it will lead to a considerable influx and undoubtedly the end of Schengen (and) the return of national borders," he told reporters in Paris.

Hollande said he wanted a "binding and permanent" system to share migrants between EU nations.

For this system to be effective there would need to be centres where migrants could be registered and their rights to asylum checked as well as greater co-operation with their countries of origin, he said.

"The issue of refugees and displaced people is first and foremost an issue that affects southern countries... It affects Africa, the Middle East but also other continents including Asia," the president said.

"We will propose to host an international conference on refugees in Paris."

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker will unveil the proposals for mandatory quotas on Wednesday.

A European source said on Monday that Germany would take more than 31,400 refugees to relieve the burden on Greece, Italy and Hungary.

"Since the beginning of the year, 350,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe," Hollande told reporters.

"It's a tragic and serious crisis. It can be brought under control and it will be."

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