French President François Hollande reiterated his commitment to finding a solution to the continuing refugee crisis in Europe Sunday, saying that any plan would include provisions for required shared responsibility among all European Union member states. Hollande, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has taken the lead on finding a sustainable solution to the influx of refugees and economic migrants arriving in Europe in increasingly high numbers since the start of the year.
A solution "must involve all European countries," Hollande said, as reported by Agence France-Presse. "No one can be exempt or we would no longer belong to the same union built on values and principles."
More than 500,000 people have surged into Europe since January, breaking records for migration across the continent. The majority of arrivals are bona fide refugees fleeing political violence, according to the United Nations. More than half of the people who have fled to Europe so far have been Syrians escaping an escalating crisis in their homeland.
Debate has raged throughout Europe over how best to deal with the situation in a way that treats refugees with dignity without tanking social spending budgets in the host nations. Most European leaders, including Hollande and Merkel, have urged all member states to take a certain number of refugees in proportion to each country's size and economic prosperity.
Several nations, including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have rejected the proposal for mandatory quotas and instead reinforced border fences to keep refugees and migrants from entering. Walls in Hungary and neighboring nations have not entirely dissuaded people from trying to cross, and violence has broken out between riot police and refugees throughout the week in Hungary.
Hollande's statement, delivered in Morocco, came just hours after 12 refugees drowned in the Aegean Sea attempting to cross from Turkey into Greece Sunday when their small raft was hit by a Turkish ferry. Another 27 people were missing and feared dead.
"We will ensure that this mechanism is effective regardless of its terms, that commitments can be kept and that it's not always the same countries who are receiving the refugees," the French president said.