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EU to relocate refugees

May 27, 2015

The European Commission is set to pave the way for the relocation of around 40,000 refugees within Europe. The bloc is to present details of its refugee policy later on Wednesday.

Migration Europa Flüchtlinge Mittelmeer
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Lupi

The European Commission plans to get a bill containing "emergency measures" through parliament by the end of the year. German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and The Associated Press (AP) report that the EU's executive is determined to relocate around 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other countries in the bloc despite fierce opposition from some member states.

The reports claim the Commission wants to introduce a quota system whereby the number of refugees allocated to a particular country would depend on its population size, its economic output and its unemployment rate.

Under the proposed rules, Germany would have to take the largest share, at 18 percent, France would have to welcome 14 percent of those refugees, mainly from Eritrea and Syria, according to the reports. Countries "will receive 6,000 euros ($6,531) for each person relocated on their territories" from EU coffers, according to the document seen by the AP.

"The proposal is not perfect, but it amounts to an enormous step forward because it introduces the principle of solidarity," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday.

"We will have to build a consensus" around the relocation proposal for asylum seekers "so that interior ministers can approve it" by a simple majority when they meet June 16 in Luxembourg, she added.

It will be a tall order, as France, Poland, Hungary and the UK are strictly against the quota system. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reiterated his opposition last weekend, saying that he was "against quotas, as something like that has never been France's policy."

The EU is scheduled to present details of its new refugee policy later on Wednesday. Under current rules, asylum seekers must remain in the country where they first arrived. As the majority of them come by sea to the EU's southernmost states Italy, Greece and Malta, those countries have long complained that the current regulation is unfair.

On May 18, EU nations approved an unprecedented naval mission to fight human trafficking, as thousands of migrants continue to attempt to cross the Mediterranean by paying enormous sums to reckless traffickers.

Pressure has grown on governments to act after an overcrowded migrant boat sank in the Mediterranean last month, leaving more than 750 dead in a case that sparked international outrage.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged EU states to do more to help migrants.

Europe "can provide more help," Ban said at a joint press conference in Dublin with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, calling for search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea to be "further strengthened."

"I'm urging European leaders to address this issue in a more comprehensive way and a collective way," he added, adding that any approach should also look at the "roots" of the problem in countries of origin. "Without compassion you cannot do this. We have to, first of all, do our best to save lives."

ng/jil (AP, AFP, dpa)