EU to announce plans for refugee quotas

Faced by mounting pressure of the migration crisis, the European commission is expected to announce plans for refugee quotas

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to announce plans to tackle Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War Two. The move comes after thousands of mainly Syrian refugees began moving northwards through Europe this weekend.

According to the BBC, under the proposals, 120,000 asylum seekers will be distributed among EU member countries, with binding quotas.

Hungary has been warned to expect an additional 40,000 refugees by the end of next week and Vincent Cochetel, a regional co-ordinator for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, also urged the Hungarian authorities to improve registration and reception procedures.

Hungary has become a key point on the journey north for the refugees, with more than 150,000 people arriving this year and authorities are now reinforcing a border fence designed to keep refugees from entering from Serbia and are toughening asylum laws.

The current crisis has exposed divisions within the EU member states with countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Romania being opposed to the idea of mandatory quotas. However, on Tuesday, Poland appeared to soften its position and prime minister Ewa Kopacz said the country would accept more people than the 2,000 it first offered to take.

Germany, on the other hand, has welcomed Syrian refugees, waiving EU rules and saying it expects to deal with 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said his country could cope with 500,000 a year for several years to come

The planned EU quota system would allocate 60% of refugees now in Italy, Greece and Hungary to Germany, France and Spain, the BBC adds. The numbers distributed to each country would depend on GDP, population, unemployment rate and asylum applications already processed, according to reports.

Countries refusing to take in refugees could face financial consequences and further plans include measures to help the economies of countries in the Middle East and Africa, and deter people-smugglers.

The UNHCR says a record 7,000 Syrian refugees arrived in Macedonia alone on Monday and 30,000 were on Greek islands of Lesbos, which have also seen a build-up of 20,000 refugees with some living in squalid conditions while they wait to be processed.

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