Dutch PM calls for deal to end 'asylum shopping'

18th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Friday for a binding agreement to share out migrants between EU countries to stop what he dubbed "asylum shopping".

EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has urged members states to take 160,000 refugees from border countries Greece, Hungary and Italy, grappling with Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.

Hopes of a unanimous deal to distribute refugees across the bloc collapsed in the face of opposition from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania at a crisis meeting of interior ministers in Brussels on Monday.

"Europe must reach consensus over compulsory distribution," Rutte said at his weekly press briefing after meeting the Dutch cabinet.

A "limited number of countries" were failing to back the plan to take in migrants but had to face up to their responsibilities.

"We have to end the practice of 'asylum shopping'," said Rutte, referring to migrants streaming to mainly wealthier western European countries with favourable asylum policies.

"Eastern Europe too must shoulder its responsibility," said Rutte.

"Over the last 15 years Eastern Europe has been able to rely on large contributions from the rest of Europe, which has been together for much longer."

Much of the money went towards structural funding and support packages to eastern Europe to build its economy, which was "also in our interest."

"Now we seriously need you," Rutte said.

The Netherlands has so far been relatively unaffected by the influx of migrants, compared to other countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary and Croatia.

There were some 1,000 to 1,500 asylum applications a week over the summer, but by the end of August it had picked up to 1,800, reaching 3,100 last week.

Dutch police and gendarmes have mobilised in recent days, carrying out increased border patrols and road blocks, while across the country a number of emergency centres to house several thousand asylum seekers have opened up or are being prepared.

Interior ministers from the 28 member states will hold a new emergency meeting next Tuesday to make a last-ditch attempt to decide on relocating the refugees.

The meeting will be ahead of an emergency summit planned for EU leaders on Wednesday.

© 2015 AFP

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