As Europe braces itself for a new deluge of refugees, the EU plans to introduce a quota system to distribute migrants across its member states. But some countries have already begun rejecting the scheme.
Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia rejected the EU's plan to introduce a system to distribute refugees coming from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. The opposition to the idea came shortly before the European Commission was scheduled to present a migration policy on May 13. The EU parliament had already voted in favor of the plans.
"This is not solidarity. It is an unfair, unrighteous and dishonorable proposal which we cannot accept, "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the state radio on Friday."It is a crazy idea for someone to let refugees into their own country, not defend their borders and say, now I will distribute them among you, who did not want to let anyone in," Orban added.
Slovakia's interior ministry also said in a statement that it "currently refuses binding quotas on migrants," while Estonia's government preferred voluntary location and resettlement of refugees.
Why EU countries need the quota
The EU Commission planned to present a proposal detailing the quota system as part of a strategy to help countries like Italy, Malta and Greece, who are the first ports of entry for refugees coming over the Mediterranean.
"We need a binding solidarity mechanism that allows for the fair distribution of asylum seekers among member states once a certain threshold has been reached," Maltese official Roberta Metsola told journalists, adding that the three countries could not face the challenge alone.
Austria, which received 28,000 applications for asylum last year - the largest number after Sweden and Hungary - also stressed the importance of a refugee quota saying it was "a question of fairness" and that asylum was "not an act of mercy but a human right."
Over 436,000 migrants applied for asylum in Europe in 2014, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Germany took over around a half of these, with the rest going mostly to France, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom. More than 27,000 migrants have arrived in Italy until now this year and over 40,000 demands for asylum have been registered, causing alarm among EU leaders who want to plan logistics and finance for the migrants in advance.
mg/bw (AFP, AP)