Brussels, Sept 15 (CTK correspondent) – The interior ministers of European Union member countries failed to reach an agreement on quotas for the distribution of asylum seekers in the EU countries yesterday, Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak told journalists after the talks tonight.
Kalinak rejected the view that a preliminary or framework agreement on the issue has been reached, which his German and French colleagues, Thomas de Maiziere and Bernard Cazeneuve, said on Monday, only a few hours ago.
Kalinak said a consensus has not been reached as more countries disagreed, not only Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
He said apart from the four Visegrad Group countries, Romania, Latvia and Britain had reservations about the plan for the redistribution of 120,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary and that other countries were dissatisfied with parts of the text.
There were many reservations about the plan, not only about the quotas, Kalinak said.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said after the meeting on Monday that the redistribution plan was supported by a great majority of the member countries. The European Commission, which proposed this plan last week, appreciated this.
Luxembourg, which currently presides over the Council of the EU, tried to present a compromise solution. The planned agreement did not mention any mandatory refugee quotas, but only said the particular details would be agreed on with respect to the specific conditions of the member countries. However, the Central and East European countries, which strongly oppose the idea of the mandatory quotas, did not find the plan acceptable.
Kalinak said the talks were held in a heavy atmosphere and under strong pressure, yet there were no clashes between the interior ministers.
Asselborn said the final decision should be made at a meeting of interior ministers scheduled for October 8.
According to Kalinak and Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, the quotas are a political issue that should be decided by a EU summit.
At a EU summit, prime ministers or presidents of the individual EU countries can veto a proposal, while a qualified majority is decisive at meetings of ministers if an agreement is not reached.
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, indicated before the interior ministers’ meeting that he would convoke a summit if the EC proposal did not win clear support.
Tension has been growing in the EU due to the migration crisis. On Sunday, Germany announced that it would introduce checks at its border with Austria. In reaction, the Czech Republic and Slovakia reinforced the protection of their borders.
The V4 countries mind especially the EU plan that would turn the redistribution of asylum seekers among the member countries less afflicted by the migration wave into an automatically triggered mechanism.
Asselborn recalled that the ministers confirmed on Monday the previously approved the relocation of 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece. The EU countries have voluntarily pledged to accept about 32,000 refugees so far, however.
Hotspots for immigrants should be quickly built in Italy and Greece to differentiate between asylum seekers and economic migrants.
EC Vice President Frans Timmermans said it was unrealistic and populist to close the borders and let all refugees outside, but that it was equally unrealistic to open the borders and let all of them inside. He said the issue was urgent and there was no time to spare because winter was approaching and would make the situation of the refugees desperate.