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EU Leaders to Approve Disputed Migrant Quota Plan

EU leaders meeting in Brussels are set to approve a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent, despite fierce opposition from some members; Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against the mandatory quota scheme. Wednesday's emergency summit will also focus on tightening EU borders and boosting aid to neighbours of Syria, from where many migrants come. EU leaders have struggled to find a co-ordinated response to the crisis. British Prime Minster David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande held talks on the eve of the meeting, saying that finding a solution to the Syrian conflict would be key to resolving the migrant crisis. They also agreed more should be done to return migrants who do not have a genuine claim for asylum, a Downing Street spokesman said.

 

The UK has opted against taking part in the relocation scheme and has its own plan to resettle migrants directly from Syrian refugee camps. US President Barack Obama said all European states should accept their "fair share" of asylum seekers, after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a rare move for an issue involving national sovereignty, EU interior ministers approved the resettlement scheme on Tuesday by majority vote rather than unanimous approval. It will see thousands of migrants moved from Italy and Greece to other EU countries. A proposal to take 54,000 migrants from Hungary was dropped. Finland abstained from the vote. Poland, which had originally opposed the proposal, voted for it. Afterwards, its opponents lashed out, with Czech President Milos Zeman saying "only the future will show what a mistake this was". Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said he would rather breach the measure than accept the "diktat" of the majority. But Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who chaired the meeting, said he had "no doubt" opposing countries would implement the measures. EU governments could face financial penalties for failing to implement European laws.

 

The UN has warned that the relocation alone would not be enough to stabilise the situation. Close to 480,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year, and are now reaching European shores at a rate of nearly 6,000 a day. Who are the 120,000?
All are migrants "in clear need of international protection" to be resettled from Italy and Greece to other EU member states
15,600 from Italy, 50,400 from Greece in the first year, and a further 54,000 from those countries later dependent on the situation
Initial screening of asylum applicants carried out in Greece and Italy
Syrians, Eritreans, Iraqis prioritised
Financial penalty of 0.002% of GDP for those member countries refusing to accept relocated migrants
Relocation to accepting countries depends on size of economy and population, average number of asylum applications
Transfer of individual applicants within two months

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