Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus Elections Cooking 🔵 Covid Classroom Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive

BRUSSELS -- Four European Union countries entered by hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants over the past five years have expressed concern that new proposals to revamp the EU's asylum system will continue to leave them to cope with the challenge alone.

Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain said in a joint statement that mandatory quotas for dividing people who qualify for refugee status among the 27 EU countries must be pursued. Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, among others, reject such a move.

The standoff could further delay the long-awaited asylum reform plans.

"The front-line member states cannot face the migratory pressure on the whole European Union," the four countries said in a text sent to the European Commission -- which drew up the asylum plans, the EU Council representing member countries and Germany, which holds the bloc's presidency.

The entry in 2015 of well over 1 million migrants, mostly people fleeing conflict in Syria, sounded the death knell for the EU's asylum system, and sparked a deep political crisis that continues to echo even though entries have dropped to a relative trickle.

The row over who should take responsibility for people when they arrive and how much other EU countries should assist has helped fuel public support for far-right parties across the bloc. Populist governments in Hungary and Poland, notably, challenged a previous system of migrant quotas at Europe's top court.

In the text, seen by The Associated Press, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain argue that their responsibilities as countries where most unauthorized migrants arrive across the Mediterranean Sea are strict and clear in the "New Pact for Migration and Asylum," but that the duties of their EU partners are not.

"The solidarity mechanism remains complex and vague," the four countries said.

"The notion of mandatory relocation should remain and be pursued as the main solidarity tool," the text said.

Under the reform plans, migrants arriving at Europe's outside borders without permission to enter would be screened within five days. They would then enter an asylum procedure or be deported within 12 weeks. People could be held in detention and would not be deemed to have officially entered the EU.

EU countries would then face a choice: Take in some of the refugees or provide other material and logistical support; or, if they are not willing to do that, take charge of deporting people whose applications are refused. Mandatory refugee quotas have been abandoned.

In recent years, only about a third of all people ordered to be sent home were actually deported.


Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.