Friday, June 26, 2015

EU Governments Kill Off Plans for Compulsory Migrant Quotas
EU leaders agree to resettle 60,000 migrants, but leaders reject Jean Claude Juncker’s plans for a mandatory redistribution

European leaders have agreed to resettle 60,000 refugees arriving from Mediterranean, but plans for compulsory quotas have been killed off in a revolt by national governments.

After a furious and protracted debate over dinner at a summit in Brussels, European leaders resolved to share tens of thousands asylum seekers from Greece and Italy throughout the union on a voluntary basis.

It amounts to a defeat for Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, who had wanted a compulsory redistribution scheme under a radical plan.

That was defeated in the face of strong opposition from countries including Hungary, which has built a four-metre high fence to close its border to migrant crossings.

Italy and other Mediterranean countries are struggling to cope with the arrival of 150,000 migrants fleeing the civil war in Syria and repression elsewhere in Africa by sea this year.

The leaders also agreed to give Frontex, the EU border force, unspecified new powers to return migrants deemed to have no right to remain in Europe.

Most of those who are relocated are likely to be Syrians and Eritreans, who cannot be repatriated due to the dangers they would face.

Britain will opt of out any European resettlement scheme.

Mr Juncker said he “would have liked” his plan to be accepted but insisted it “doesn’t matter” now other states had accept the target.

He described the 60,000 as "a modest effort, let's be honest about that. It certainly demonstrates that Europe is not always able to live up to its own ambitions that it sets to the outside world."

At dinner, Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, lashed out at his counterparts for refusing to accept migrants.

"If that's your idea of Europe, you can keep it," Italian sources said. "Either give us solidarity or don't waste our time.”
"If you don't want to take the 40,000 you are not fit to be called Europe," he added.

Mr Juncker and Donald Tusk partially denied they had rowed, after reports Mr Juncker had declared "Je m'en fou"- I don't care – in the face of European Council concerns.

Asked about the remarks at a 3am press conference, Mr Juncker looked hurt, and theatrically moved to hug Mr Tusk, the chairman of the Council, who pushed him away with one hand.

"Do not believe those who are tweeting. Do not believe those who are leaking," Mr Juncker said.

"There was no conflict between us tonight."

"This conflict between us is pure abstraction," Mr Tusk added. "We are not suicidal." Mr Juncker added; "The day I will decide on suicide, he will do the same."

The row left little time for David Cameron’s scheduled presentation on plans for a referendum, described by officials as a “brief” intervention while legal drafts were prepared of the resolution on migration.

One source described it as a “commercial break”.

Leaving the summit, Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted that the process of British reform and renegotiation, and the referendum we are going to hold, that process is now properly under way.

"People always say to me these things aren't possible, that we will never get them done. Once again, we have proved we will get them done.

"We have started that process and it's under way.”

Mr Tusk said that technical talks will now commence, and the results of the consultation would be presented to leaders in December.

Mr Juncker made plain his irritation at the late finish of the summit, hosted by Mr Tusk, saying he had been working until 3am the previous evening and needed to return to his office at 6am.

“I protest against this working method,” he said.

"I am still awake, but tired, but when you are tired you don't make the best decisions. So I don't appreciate this method which prevents my sleeping like an honest, average, mortal citizen."

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