Germany says EU majority vote may force members to take migrants

Germany says EU majority vote may force members to take migrants

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday that EU members reluctant to accept migrant quotas may have to be outvoted and overruled in the 28-member bloc.

"It just cannot be that Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy carry the burden alone," he said about Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II. "That's not how European solidarity works. "And if there is no other way, then we should seriously consider to use the instrument of a qualified majority," he told the Passauer Neue Presse daily.

The 28 EU members usually aim for compromise and consensus on policies. But under the tool of a qualified majority vote, binding decisions can be taken if 55 percent of nations representing 65 percent of the total population agree.

A number of eastern European countries, notably Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have rejected the idea of accepting a share of migrants, under national quotas that reflect populations and economic strength.

A meeting of EU interior ministers last Monday failed to reach a deal on quotas to distribute 120,000 migrants. An extraordinary summit of the European Union has been scheduled for next Wednesday in Brussels, following a request by Berlin and Vienna.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has become the top EU destination for people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. It expects to receive between 800,000 and one million asylum seekers this year, generating extra costs close to 10 billion euros.

Amid a surge of newcomers in recent weeks, Germany, Austria and other members have reimposed identity checks on parts of their borders.

Steinmeier, who was headed to Turkey Friday to discuss the Syria crisis, also told the newspaper that many refugees had wrong ideas about their chances of being granted asylum in Germany.

"A lot of false information is circulating about the options to obtain asylum in Germany, which we cannot leave unchallenged," he said as his ministry has launched information campaigns on media and in social networks.

This included the misconception Germany has jobs waiting for migrants from Kosovo, and rumors in the Middle East that Germany needs refugees to plug gaps in its labor market.

In his talks in Ankara, Steinmeier said he wanted to offer additional support to Turkey, which has already taken in massive numbers of refugees from Syria.

"Turkey is a key country for dealing with the large refugee crisis and for our political efforts to end the terrible civil war in Syria," he said in an earlier statement.


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