migrants Denmark Germany Syria
Danish police guard a train carrying migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, at Rodby train station REUTERS/Jens Norgaard Larsen/Scanpix Denmark

A Danish MP has called for migrants to be "shot at" if they crossed Europe's "territorial waters".

Kenneth Kristensen Berth, EU affairs spokesman for the far right Danish People's Party, made the comments in a debate on 8 December about protecting Europe's external borders with pro-immigration politician Stine Bosse.

"The only way you can do it effectively is simply to turn the boats away and say 'You can't sail into this territorial border, if you do you will either be shot or you will be turned around and sailed back'," he said.

He later qualified the comments, saying that he only meant "warning shots" should be fired.

Millions of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa entered Europe in 2015 and 2016, many making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in which thousands have perished.

The crisis has generated fierce debate in Denmark, with the country controversially passing a DPP sponsored bill earlier in 2015 forcing migrants to hand over jewellery and other valuables to absorb the costs of accommodation.

Opposition lawmakers widely condemned Berth's remarks.

"What a warning shot tells is that the next shot fired will hit you if you don't stop your activity," said Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of the governing Liberal Party who preferred "political solutions".

"What follows [a warning shot] is use of violence. That is not OK," he said.