Four Central European states have rejected the European Union president’s proposal for a quota system to distribute the resettlement of refugees among all member states, the Associated Press reports. The foreign ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland rejected the EU’s plan in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday.
“The V4 ministers of foreign affairs welcome that [the European] Commission in the new proposal will no longer focus solely on enforced mandatory relocation and gives more priority to the long-term solution of unregulated migration,” said the four countries in a joint statement of the Visegrad Group. “We continue to see relocation as a temporary emergency measure that doesn’t address the real causes of the crises.”
The Czech foreign minister said his country wanted control over how many refugees it must accept. Hungary, which has constructed a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia, said the EU’s priority should be to control its borders.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s mandatory quota plan would help countries more evenly distribute refugees by taking into account individual country populations and economic conditions. Refugees have fled in record numbers, escaping conflicts and repressive states including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea. Germany has said it expects to take in 800,000 refugees, which would amount to about 1 percent of its whole population.
During remarks Friday, Steinmeier stressed the magnitude of the crisis as “possibly the biggest challenge for the European Union in its history. And it’s impossible for one country to deal with such a challenge.”
EU ministers are scheduled to meet Monday to continue discussing possible solutions to the situation. The rejection of the quota proposal by Central European states will complicate any possible continentwide response.
Following increased media attention to the plight of refugees and pressure within the U.S., the Obama administration announced Thursday that the U.S. would increase its intake of Syrian refugees to 10,000 in the next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.