EU greenlights divisive plan to relocate 120, 000 refugees

(AGI) Brussels, Sept 22 - While the EU Interior Minister Summitwas still going on in Brussels, the Extraordinary Justice andHome Affairs Council decided to relocate 120,000 refugees bymajority vote. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia andHungary voted against it, Poland voted for it, and Finlandabstained. Initially, there will be 15,600 refugees resettledfrom Italy and 50,400 from Greece, as the plan originallyenvisaged. At a later stage, 54,000 refugees will be relocatedfrom Hungary to Italy and Greece. Hungary voted againstaccepting "its" quotas. In an effort to reach a consensus, theLuxembourg Presidency of the

(AGI) Brussels, Sept 22 - While the EU Interior Minister Summitwas still going on in Brussels, the Extraordinary Justice andHome Affairs Council decided to relocate 120,000 refugees bymajority vote. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia andHungary voted against it, Poland voted for it, and Finlandabstained. Initially, there will be 15,600 refugees resettledfrom Italy and 50,400 from Greece, as the plan originallyenvisaged. At a later stage, 54,000 refugees will be relocatedfrom Hungary to Italy and Greece. Hungary voted againstaccepting "its" quotas. In an effort to reach a consensus, theLuxembourg Presidency of the Council has decided not tointroduce mandatory quotas. However, the four opposingcountries confirmed their stance and thus a vote was called,since a qualified majority is needed on matters such as these.According to the approved plan, countries which ask not to takein their quota in full because of exceptional reasons, will beable to defer receiving up to a maximum of 30% of theirassigned asylum seekers for one year. Italy's Interior MinisterAngelino Alfano commented on the result of the EU Justice andHome Affairs Council by stating that Italy had got what itwanted. Mr. Alfano said it was an important achievement to havethe plan approved by a qualified majority. He added it was aresult that nobody believed was possible only eight days ago,clearly referring to the Sept. 14 Justice and Home AffairsCouncil during which the 28 EU member states failed to come toan agreement. Today's new rules are binding, but they shouldhave been in place two years ago, Mr. Alfano said. It is on the3rd of October, he explained, that we will remember the victimsof the tragic shipwreck that occurred at Lampedusa two yearsago. He added it was at that time that Italy maintained thatrefugees were not solely crossing the Mediterranean Sea, andthat immigration was not only an Italian problem. A Europeanrepatriation policy is of the essence, if Europe is to providean efficient answer to immigration flows, the Italian interiorminister said. Mr. Alfano added that in a year's time Europewould find itself in a situation as difficult as the currentone, unless a repatriation policy is defined.. .