EU considers new plan to ease disputes over migrants
Brussels: EU governments will study a new proposal aimed at overcoming the deep splits over sharing responsibility for asylum-seekers that has soured relations in the bloc since the migrant crisis of 2015, diplomats said on Wednesday.
Estonia, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, put forward the compromise plan at a meeting of national envoys, hoping to reconcile countries like Italy, which bear the brunt of arrivals from across the Mediterranean, and eastern states fiercely opposed to being obliged to take in immigrants.
Previous proposals have failed to make headway; governments which complain about unfair burdens stemming from an EU rule that asylum claims must be handled in the country where people enter the EU want others to be obliged to take in a share. Ex-communist countries in the east, with little recent history of immigration, especially from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, have resisted attempts by the EU executive to force them to take quotas, leading to stalemate and division that, at the height of the crisis, threatened the Union's cohesion.
Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered in a September election for her decision to allow over a million people to enter during the crisis, has been pressing other countries to demonstrate "solidarity" on the migrant issue. Under the Estonian plan, the executive European Commission would determine "fair shares" of asylum-seekers that countries would be expected to take in at their own borders.