Chancellor Angela Merkel's predecessor is criticizing her handling of the migrant crisis, but backing her stance that Germany can't set a cap on the number of asylum-seekers it takes.

Ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who led Germany from 1998 to 2005, told Friday's edition of the Handelsblatt daily that Merkel had "a lot of heart but no plan" when she opened the borders to migrants last fall. He said that Merkel's mistake "was to allow an exception to turn into a new normality — an unlimited influx."

Germany registered nearly 1.1 million asylum-seekers last year. Some conservatives are pushing for a cap, but the center-left Schroeder backed Merkel's position that that can't be done and there has to be an agreement to distribute refugees within the European Union.