EU interior ministers agree on refugee quota system | News | DW | 22.09.2015
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EU interior ministers agree on refugee quota system

The European Union's interior ministers have agreed on a plan to distribute 120,000 people between the bloc's member states. The agreement comes despite protest from several eastern European countries.

A majority of EU ministers voted in favor of the plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the bloc's member states, the Luxembourg delegation, which holds the EU presidency, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

In a separate tweet, the Czech Republic's Interior Minister Milan Chovanec wrote that his country, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary voted against the proposal, while Finland abstained.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, who was chairing the Brussels meeting, said his team had prepared a text on migrants and that he was hopeful of an agreement.

"It is very balanced. I think it will have a good influence on all the delegations so we can reach a result this evening," Asselborn said.

The EU's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos called for unity among EU members:

Leaders' summit next

Germany, which has said it expects as many as 800,000 asylum applications this year, agreed early on to its share of refugees in the Luxembourg plan.

EU Minister Brüssel Treffen Belgien Innenminister Thomas de Maiziere Österreich Johanna Mikl-Leitner

Germany and Austria pushed for an agreement despite divisions in Brussels

Earlier, Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had said "Europe cannot afford an inconclusive meeting today." Ministers would also need to speak about distributing the incoming migrants and deporting people who were not thought to be in urgent need of help, he said.

Tuesday's meeting of interior ministers will be followed by a discussion between EU government heads on Wednesday.

More refugees entering EU

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground was tense, with more refugees pouring in to Austria from Hungary on Tuesday. Around 1,500 refugees had arrived at the Nickelsdorf crossing and around the same number were expected to come in later, police told reporters. The village witnessed 9,900 refugee arrivals on Monday. Nearly 200 migrants came to Austria through the Heiligenkreuz crossing, police said.

Around 600 people had entered Germany through Freilassing at the Austrian border, German police told reporters in Rosenheim in Bavaria. Hundreds more were expected to reach the southern German state later on Tuesday.

German rail company Deutsche Bahn has meanwhile temporarily halted trains between Salzburg for Munich, which is currently hosting the Oktoberfest.

More help needed

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has however said that much more needs to be done to help refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. More than 477,906 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe so far this year, according to UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

Germany's deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, who is on a trip to Jordan, said that countries needed to increase aid to the United Nations in the Middle East. People there needed help, Gabriel said, adding that "they would also move" to other countries if they received no support.

mg/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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