The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled a proposal for EU states to take in 20,000 refugees over two years but offered Britain, Ireland and Denmark the option of refusing to host any of the asylum seekers.
Under a resettlement quota scheme based on country size, economic output and other measures, Germany would take in the most migrants followed by France and Italy, assuming Britain exercises its right to opt out.
Shocked by the deaths of migrants from North Africa trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, the European Union is trying to put in place a fairer way to resettle asylum seekers at a time when anti-immigrant parties are on the rise in Europe.
Italy and other southern European countries are clamouring for EU help to deal with the influx. But while Italy, Germany and Austria back a quota system, some EU states are opposed.
"No country should be left alone to address huge migratory pressures," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on his Twitter account after the proposals were published.
Britain has said it would opt out of any EU plan to resettle refugees using country quotas, saying it preferred to focus its efforts on tackling people-traffickers instead.
Hours before the plans were unveiled, British interior minister, Theresa May, criticised the EU’s approach, saying that by not sending economic migrants back, the bloc was encouraging them to make the crossing.
“Such an approach would only act as an increased pull factor across the Mediterranean and encourage more people to put their lives at risk,” she wrote in an article in the Times newspaper.
"We cannot do anything which encourages more people to make these perilous journeys – or which makes it easier for the gangs responsible for their misery. That is why the UK will not participate in a mandatory system of resettlement or relocation," May wrote.
The formal proposal to member will come at the end of the month.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-05-13