Nations split ahead of EU’s release of refugee quotas
The president of the European Union Commission is set to present his plan on how to tackle the refugee crisis that is dividing governments in Europe.
Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to announce a mandatory national quota system based on each member country’s population, income and unemployment rate on Wednesday morning – with the aim of housing an additional 120,000 refugees.
Germany which hosts the largest number of refugees has already backed the idea, so has Sweden, which takes the most number of refugees in relation to its population.
Italy, which is one of the main arrival points for thousands of refugees crossing the Mediterranean is also in favour and so are France and Spain
But the plan has met stiff opposition from countries like Hungary which is building a fence to keep refugees away from its borders.
Its neighbours, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Slovak Republic have also said that mandatory and permanent quotas would be unacceptable.
An estimated 400,000 refugees are expected to cross the Mediterranean this year.
On Tuesday, Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN refugee agency, called for an increase in the number of legal ways for refugees to come to Europe, citing an increase in number of visas, relocation and reunification of people with their families
He said the influx of refugees entering Europe’s borders was manageable and praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her government’s pro-refugee policy.
“We are talking about 4,000 or 5,000 people per day in a [European] Union that has 508 million people.”
Merkel urged greater flexibility in EU migrant quotas as her deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, said Berlin “could surely deal with something in the order of half-a-million [refugees] for several years”.
Speaking alongside Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Berlin on Tuesday, she said that all countries in Europe have to take responsibility for the values Europe was founded on in dealing with the current refugee crisis.
“We can’t just say Syria is too far away we don’t care about it, when the entire world is looking at us,” she said.
Germany, which has previously said it would take in 800,000 asylum seekers this year, would continue accepting “a greatly disproportionate share” among EU members “because we are an economically strong country”, Gabriel told AFP news agency.
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