Euro deal on asylum seekers closer
European Union interior ministers have voted to relocate 12,000 asylum seekers across the continent using a quota system but are yet to decide exactly how many each country will finally accept.
Now the plan will go to EU presidents and prime ministers, who are scheduled to meet in Brussels next Wednesday to consider it.
In the interior ministers’ vote, four countries – Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – opposed quotas.
In recent months Eastern European countries in particular have shown resistance to committing to quotas. But if passed by a majority of EU national leaders, they’ll have to comply with the resettlement plan even if they voted against it, reports said.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa have entered Europe, most headed for Germany.
More than 430,000 migrants have come to Europe by sea so far this year, double the number that arrived during all of 2014, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Meanwhile, the first Syrian refugees coming to Britain as part of the Government’s new resettlement programme have arrived in Britain.
The UK Home Office confirmed that the refugees had arrived in the UK but did not give details about how many had been admitted or where they were located.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK’s expanded vulnerable person resettlement scheme would take 4,000 refugees a year over the next five years, a total of 20,000.
The UK is not participating in a European Union plan to relocate 120,000 refugees who are already in the continent.
In other developments:
- The European Commission warned that 19 EU member states, including France and Germany, faced possible sanctions for failing to implement rules on handling asylum seekers coming to Europe.
- Germany’s top domestic security chief said that hard-line Islamists in the country might recruit supporters among new refugees and migrants – though many of those migrants are, in fact, fleeing hard-line Islamists in the form of the terrorist group ISIS.
- The Balkan nation of Croatia is grappled with an increasing wave of migrants this week. In one 12 hour period 2,400 migrants were reported to have entered the country, which has a population of only 4.4 million.
An initial 66,000 asylum seekers will be redistributed from Greece and Italy – the first countries of arrival for many seeking to reach Europe. After one year, a further 54,000 will be relocated from those two countries, unless a need arises in another member state.
EU countries will receive 6,000 euros (6,700 dollars) per asylum seeker they take in.
So far, it has been agreed that asylum seekers will be redistributed as follows: Austria 1,953; Belgium 2,448; Bulgaria 852; Croatia 568; Cyprus 147; Czech Republic 1,591; Estonia 199; Finland 1,286; France 12,962; Germany 17,036; Hungary 1,294; Latvia 281; Lithuania 416; Luxembourg 237; Malta 71; Netherlands 3,900; Poland 5,082; Portugal 1,642; Romania 2,475; Slovakia 802; Slovenia 337; Spain 8,113; Sweden 2,397.
AMES Australia Staff Writer