The president of the European Commission has called for the mandatory distribution of about 160,000 asylum-seekers among the EU’s 28 member states.
Jean-Claude Juncker told European lawmakers in Strasbourg that the burden of dealing with the asylum-seekers must not be left to Italy, Greece, and Hungary, where they first arrive. He said the bloc must come up with a common list of safe countries of origin that will enable member states to fast-track asylum applications.
Jucker called for a permanent relocation mechanism that will allow the EU to deal with crisis situations more swiftly, for stronger joint efforts to secure the EU’s borders, and a legal migration package for the bloc.
But it was the issue of the migrants that was at the core of Juncker’s State of the Union speech to the European Parliament.
“We need more Europe in our asylum policy,” he said. “We need more Union in our refugee policy.”
And he made it clear that his plan to redistribute the 160,000 migrants would not be voluntary.
“It has to be done,” he said, “and it will be done.”
Juncker’s remarks come amid deep divisions in Europe over the most serious migrant crisis since World War II. Migrants fleeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought refuge in Europe for years. They have now been joined by those fleeing the civil war in Syria—a conflict that has created 4 million refugees.