EU rules on asylum are splitting Europe, says EU presidency Bulgaria

SOFIA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The European Union’s rules on asylum which state that requests be handled by the country where asylum is first claimed are splitting Europe, the prime minister of Bulgaria, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said on Monday.

Nationalist-minded, eurosceptic governments in Poland and Hungary have refused to take in a single asylum-seeker under a scheme to have each member state host a number of refugees to ease pressure on the main sea gateways of Greece and Italy.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic, citing security concerns, have also been reluctant to accept migrants from other EU countries.

“The Dublin Regulation does not work the way we want it to,” said Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, referring to one of the main EU laws on asylum.

“It not only divides but also literally splits Europe,” Borissov said at a news conference with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Sofia.

“I think that, with the trust we have with each other, we will find a compromise,” he said, adding that borders should be closed with people entering only through official border ccheckpoints.

Borissov also said security centres should be built in non-EU countries such as Turkey and Libya to accommodate migrants.

Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest country, assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the bloc three weeks ago for the first time since it joined the EU in 2007.

Babis stressed that the Czech Republic, sharing similar views on migrant quotas with other countries from the Visegrad Four, including ex-communist states Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, would not change its stance.

“It is known that we want to fight against these quotas,” Babis said. “The quotas are ineffective and a compromise is needed.”

$1 = 0.8177 euros Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Richard Balmforth