22 Sep 2015

Migrant crisis: EU ministers agree plan

European ministers agree a plan to share out 120,000 asylum seekers across the EU, despite opposition from former communist countries.

(Above: Croatian police and migrants scuffle at a reception centre on the Croatia/Serbia border)

The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania opposed the plan for a pan-EU quota system, but they were out-voted by other member states at a meeting of European interior ministers in Brussels.

At an emergency summit on Wednesday, EU leaders will focus on aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and the Middle East and tightening border controls to stem the flow of people fleeing war and poverty.

The UN refugee agency said EU plans to absorb 120,000 refugees would not work unless reception centres were provided for tens of thousands at any time.


Nearly half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, two-fifths of them from Syria, in a surge that has overwhelmed countries like Greece and Hungary.

Germany has agreed to accept 800,000 migrants this year and wants other countries to sign up to mandatory quotas, but former communist states in eastern Europe are opposed.

EU officials are hoping to achieve agreement on financial aid for Turkey, Jordan and other countries housing 4 million Syrian refugees.

The European Commission said last week it was ready to earmark 1 billion euros for Turkey, more than five times what has already been allocated for the 2 million refugees there.

A senior official told Reuters: “Europe wants to take its share of refugees and will do, but Syrians should stay as close as possible to their homes.”