EU ready to discuss terms of asylum sharing, says Avramopoulos

The European Commission is ready to discuss new ways to admit and distribute asylum seekers in the EU, its top migration official said Tuesday, after Paris and Berlin urged it to rethink its plans.

Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the plan included steps aimed at “a better sharing of responsibility and solidarity” within the European Union to cope with growing numbers of migrants arriving on its shores.

Last week it asked member states to admit 20,000 Syrian refugees from outside Europe and process another 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea landing in Italy and Greece.

Their distribution would be worked out according to factors such as national economic output, population, unemployment rates and the number of refugees already admitted to an individual country.

But France and Germany Monday made a joint call to the EU to revise its plan, saying there was insufficient “balance” and that efforts by countries in welcoming asylum seekers should be “better taken into account”.

Speaking at a meeting of interior ministers from six EU countries in Moritzburg, near Dresden, in eastern Germany, Avramopoulos defended the proposed figures.

“I would like to point out that the proposed resettlement of 20,000 refugees from third countries and the relocation of 40,000 asylum seekers throughout the EU is quite reasonable, especially when we consider that just in the last few days over 6,000 migrants arrived in the EU,” he said, according to remarks released by the EU executive.

But he said further discussion was needed on “the resettlement and relocation schemes and the distribution key used to determine the extent of responsibility-sharing for each member state.”

And he added: “We are of course willing to discuss with member states the modalities of implementation of the mechanisms to ensure a fair distribution of asylum seekers within the European Union.”