Norway’s PM and finance minister in potential clash over EU asylum
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said she would be open to Norway relieving pressure on EU countries by taking in more refugees.
The PM’s view is not shared by Finance Minister Siv Jensen, who is also leader of the anti-immigration Progress Party.
Just under a week ago, Solberg said that Norway could help relieve the burden on countries that have taken in a large number of refugees and migrants.
“If it is such that we reach agreement that the pressure of refugees coming to other countries in Europe is reduced because other countries take more, then we must agree on a distribution mechanism. I think that is fair and we also did that when we had redistribution in 2015,” she told NRK.
Following an EU summit attended by heads of state in Brussels last week, an agreement was made enabling countries that have taken in fewer refugees to relieve those that have taken in more.
But Finance Minister Jensen wrote on Facebook that she was not in support of the potential redistribution.
“In the last few days, many have asked whether Norway should voluntarily take in more migrants that come to EU countries.
“The Progress Party is against that. Norway has already contributed significantly. What we need is a joint asylum centre in Africa to keep the situation under control,” the minister wrote.
Meanwhile, Progress MP Per-Willy Amundsen suggested that his party should quit the coalition government should Solberg push to take in more refugees.
“I am sending a clear signal on behalf of the Progress Party parliamentary group that there is a limit to what Progress will accept. We are beginning to quickly approach that limit,” Amundsen told NRK.
Solberg’s Conservative party colleague told NRK that he was unsurprised by the response from the Progress Party, saying that an anti-immigration stance was the “primary politics” of the populist parliamentary group.
“A potential migration agreement with the EU still lies some way ahead. But it is clear that it is in Norway’s interest that Europe and the EU come to agreement on the issue (of migration). That would relieve pressure on the Norwegian asylum system,” he added.