Spain accepts limited number of refugees as EU quota talks fail

David Ferrer on Flickr

THE European Union has failed to agree a deal that would spread responsibility amongst the member nations for the care of refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean. Spain was one of several countries that rejected the quota system proposed by the European Commission, agreeing to accept a more limited number of people.
The proposal would have resettled 40,000 people who have landed predominantly in Greece and Italy, part of the estimated 135,000 people to have survived the journey to Europe in makeshift crafts so far this year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
A meeting held on Monday (July 20) followed earlier failed attempts to come to an agreement to set up voluntary quotas, which had been billed as a gesture of solidarity with Italy and Greece.
Spain was one of the nations that rejected the suggested quota, agreeing to accept 1,300 people, several thousand short of the proposed number. The UK has used its opt-out on immigration matters to not participate in the proposal whatsoever. Ireland also has an opt-out, but has agreed to provide homes for 600 people anyway.
Germany (10,500) and France (6,752) have offered to accept the biggest numbers.
The meeting finished with commission 8,000 short of the 40,000 target.
“I want to be frank with you. I am disappointed that this did not happen today but it was a very important step forward”, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after the meeting.
“This shows that a voluntary scheme is difficult to implement and whenever it was tried before, it has failed.”
However, he said that he believed a further 8,000 people would be allocated before the end of the year.
Also part of discussions was a separate proposal to resettle people currently in refugee camps outside of the EU, predominantly people from Syria. The target to agree to accept a total of 20,000 people was more easily met, although non-EU countries stepped in, amongst them Norway, agreeing to rehome 3,500 refugees, more than any EU country.


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