EU's Tusk ready to call summit on refugees

If no refugee accord is taken, EU president ready to call an emergency meeting of the European Council

EU's Tusk ready to call summit on refugees

World Bulletin / News Desk

EU president Donald Tusk said Friday he would call a summit of European Union leaders this month if their ministers fail next week to agree how to share refugees throughout the bloc.

Justice and home affairs ministers are to meet in Brussels on Monday to act on EU proposals to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from overstretched Greece, Hungary and Italy and for a permanent mechanism of binding quotas to deal with future emergencies.

"The time has come to take decisions. From that meeting, we will need a concrete, positive sign of solidarity and unity," Tusk told reporters in Nicosia after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

Tusk said he had detected some signs of change among member states who up to now have been reluctant to admit asylum seekers in the face of growing anti-immigrant sentiment. 

"After contacts that I had with member states in the last few days, I feel more hopeful today that we are closer to finding a solution based on consensus and genuine solidarity," Tusk said.

But "without such a decision, I will have to call an emergency meeting of the European Council," he said.

France, which had been hostile to binding quotas, now supports Germany over the need for the permanent and mandatory reception of refugees with the burden shared among all European countries.

There is new pressure for systematic and coordinated action to tackle the refugee crisis, particularly after the widely-distributed photograph of a Syrian toddler lying lifeless in the surf of a Turkish beach.

However, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday failed at talks in Prague to convince counterparts from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept the EU plan.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the 28-nation EU's executive branch, unveiled the plans in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Urging member states to back the proposals, he said: "Now is not the time to take fright."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Eylül 2015, 15:42