Yet, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a firm stance on migration - making it clear she feels it is her country's duty to help those genuinely claiming asylum from war-torn countries like Syria, and calling on Europe to step up and share responsibility for the huge number of people moving across the region.
Germans are welcoming refugees into their homes, and some hold 'welcome fests' at refugee centres when new people arrive, in a picture somewhat different to the fear and hostility towards people trying to reach Britain from Calais.
Here are seven of Merkel's recent quotes which capture her distinctive stance on immigration:
She speaks up for refugees
Asked about more than 200 arson attacks against homes for asylum-seekers seen in Germany this year, Merkel said on 16 August that the actions were "unworthy of our country," taking a strong stance to defend the rights of refugees against Germans attacking them.
She likes a project
Matthias Rietschel via Getty Images
Unlike British politicians, who have rarely addressed the long-term nature of the migration crisis and its origins, Merkel speaks of immigration challenges on a macro scale.
In mid-August she said refugees will “preoccupy Europe much more” than the Greek financial crisis, and identified asylum as a possibility for the “next major European project”.
She's not afraid of eggs
Though eggs were thrown by anti-refugee demonstrators when she visited a shelter attacked by far-right protesters in eastern Germany, Merkel stood in front of people holding placards called her the "people's traitor".
“There can be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people,” she said on 26 August. “There is no tolerance of those who are not ready to help, where, for legal and humanitarian reasons, help is due.”
Refugees are part of her vision
"If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won't be the Europe we wished for," Merkel said on 31 August.
She's up for the challenge
Faced with record numbers of refugees - 800,000 are expected this year - Merkel is undaunted. "Germany is a strong country - we will manage," she told reporters on 31 August.
We're in it together
Merkel has repeatedly called for a collective approach from European countries to address migration, something the UK hasn't seemed too interested in. "Europe as a whole needs to move" she said in August, in a call for greater co-operation which was echoed by France.
She has even called for EU member states to "share responsibility for asylum-seeking refugees", an idea it's hard to imagine Britain getting behind.
She's all for freedom of movement
In marked contrast to the UK's rhetoric which has tended to favour tighter controls on movement around the EU, Merkel says she does not was freedom of movement rules to be tightened - though she warned it would have to be considered if responsibility for accepting migrants was not shared around the EU.