ANGELA Merkel launched a veiled attack on the UK Government yesterday when she insisted the refugee crisis is a challenge for every nation in the European Union.

The German Chancellor spoke out as the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled quota proposals for 22 of the 28 EU members to give sanctuary to 120,000 people who have arrived in Greece, Italy and Hungary, mostly after fleeing from the war in Syria.

But the UK won’t be accepting a single one as the Conservative Government has refused to join. “We need a binding agreement on distribution of refugees among all member states, according to fair criteria,” Merkel told parliamentarians in the Bundestag.

“If Europe fails in this refugee crisis, it betrays its founding principles,” she said, stressing that it was not just a “challenge at national level, but for the EU as a whole. We just have to get stuck in and remove obstacles to enable a peaceful coexistence.”

Germany took in 20,000 refugees last weekend and will take in 800,000 people this year, as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Meanwhile, unveiling his plan in Strasbourg, Juncker said the 22 member states who had signed up to the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) provisions of the European Treaty should be obliged to accept another 120,000 people who had arrived in southern Europe.

In an attempt to prevent haggling among members after lengthy discussions in May over the dispersal of 40,000 refugees, Juncker said this time “this has to be done in a compulsory way”.

In an impassioned appeal, Juncker warned that “the refugee crisis will not simply go away” and “it is time to act”. He said 500,000 refugees have entered Europe this year, many from conflict-torn Syria and Libya. “We are fighting against Islamic State, why are we not ready to accept those who are fleeing

Islamic State?” he said.

Juncker also said there was a need for a radical overhaul of Europe’s “dysfunctional and fragmented” immigration policies and called for root-and-branch reform of disparate policies.

He also called for a common regime of EU border guards, the opening of legal channels to coordinate arrivals, as well as binding and permanent systems for absorbing the influx of refugees fairly across the continent.

Like the UK, Ireland and

Denmark are not legally bound to take part in the scheme, which will be voted on in Brussels on Monday, though Ireland has said it will take in 1800 refugees.

Hungary estimates that more than 160,000 people have crossed its borders alone this year.

The EU’s first refugee plan did not win full support, and only about 32,000 refugees have been allocated. Hungary was among the countries to reject it, along with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

On Monday, President Francois Hollande threw France’s weight behind the new EU plan by saying it would take in 24,000 refugees this year, exactly the figure the new scheme calls for. The UK announced it would welcome up to 20,000 refugees currently in countries outside the EU over the next five years.

Juncker also announced a list of “safe countries” including

Albania and Kosovo, from which thousands of people have fled this year. The “safe country” tag is likely to mean that few asylum applications by nationals from those countries are likely to succeed as these people would be hard-pressed to justify violence or persecution against them.

Long-term, the Commission also unveiled a plan to set up a £1.31 billion fund to help African nations better manage their borders and reduce the number of people heading for Europe.

Cameron ‘must show humanity in refugee crisis’

Germany’s reaction is kind and pragmatic