Angela  Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for large EU countries to accept more migrants in the wake of the Mediterranean refugee crisisHannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Angela Merkel has said that large European countries should be prepared to accept more refugees.

On Friday, 24 April, the German Chancellor called for a new European Union system which allocates refugees to member states, according to the states' population and wealth. Merkel was speaking during a campaign event for state elections in Bremen.

Her initiative comes as the EU grapples with the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, where hundreds have died in recent days attempting to cross from northern Africa to Italy.

At an emergency EU summit on 23 April, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will not take any of the refugees. He said that the UK was already doing its share because it has Europe's biggest overseas aid and defence budgets.

However, Merkel's proposal would mean that the UK, as an EU member with a large population and with a relatively successful economy, would be expected to allow in a proportion of the refugees.

Refugees moved on

Her statement echoes remarks she made on the sidelines of the emergency summit.

Merkel said that the EU's existing rules on asylum seekers – the Dublin Regulations – are not working and should be scrapped.

"The Dublin rules need to be changed," she told fellow EU leaders. "Five member states account for three-quarters of all asylum seekers' under the present system."

The Dublin Regulations state that refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country they enter, and that they cannot pick and choose between member states. However, Germany has accused southern EU countries of encouraging asylum seekers to move on.

The majority of refugees arrive on Europe's southern shores after crossing the Mediterranean.

Burden on Germany

The border-free Schengen Area means they can easily move onto to other EU countries, despite the Dublin Regulations.

Germany believes it is being made to accept a disproportionate number of asylum seekers. In 2014, Germany received 173,070 asylum applications, more than twice as many as any other EU country.

During the same period, the UK received 31,260 applications, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Donald Tusk, European Council president, stated on Thursday that EU leaders must "sacrifice some national interests for the common good" by taking part in a "resettlement" programme.

Meanwhile, during the Thursday summit the EU leaders pledged to triple funding of marine operations in the Mediterranean in an attempt to reduce migrant drownings.

Fifteen of the 28 EU countries also promised additional naval assistance for the mission.