European Union governments argued over plans to disperse migrants from northern Africa and the Middle East as countries disagree over how many each should take.
With a self-imposed end-of-July deadline looming, ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday sounded pessimistic about finding an immediate solution to the question of how to resettle 40,000 asylum seekers across the 28-nation EU.
“Only five to 10 countries” have agreed to take in a fair share of refugees, German Interior Ministry State Secretary Emily Haber said before going into the talks. “Numerous countries, around about 20 out of 28, feel it is other people’s business.”
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Civil war in Syria and chaos in Libya are driving the biggest wave of migration in Europe since the fall of communism in the early 1990s. European governments took in 185,000 asylum seekers in 2014, an increase of almost 50 percent from 2013, with Greece and Italy in the front line.
The ministers need to flesh out a plan agreed at a summit last month, where after a heated argument EU leaders pledged to share the burden of migrants from across the Mediterranean Sea.
While they decided in principle to resettle 40,000 asylum-seekers who have fled to Italy and Greece, the leaders opted against obligatory quotas for each European nation and fell short of agreeing on a voluntary distribution system.
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A separate proposal to take a further 20,000 refugees directly from countries of origin or transit has proved less controversial.
Eastern European governments have complained that they would be flooded with refugees under the proposal. Britain opted out of the plan.
“We will have quite tough discussions about relocation,” said Latvian Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis. “I hope we will manage it.”
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