September 14, 2015 / 11:26 AM / 4 years ago

EU agrees bigger migrant relocation, but details unclear: draft

Migrants run on the field near the border crossing from Hungary in Nickelsdorf, Austria September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU interior ministers are set to agree to relocate a further 120,000 asylum-seekers around the bloc but leave details of the scheme open to discussion, according to draft conclusions of a meeting about to start on Monday.

As well as adopting into law an earlier scheme to relocate 40,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece, the ministerial council would, if the draft seen by Reuters is approved later in the day, accept in principle a proposal by the EU executive to redistribute a further 120,000 people.

But after opposition to a system of compulsory national quotas, particularly from east European states, governments would continue to discuss how to spread the asylum-seekers around the bloc before a further ministerial meeting on Oct. 8.

“The Council has committed to relocate an additional 120,000 persons in need of international protection from member states exposed to massive migratory flows,” the draft read. That makes no mention of which states would benefit due to opposition from Hungary, which has rejected a plan to relieve it of migrants.

“The numbers proposed by the Commission constitute the basis for an agreement on the distribution of those persons within the European Union. Work will be carried out as a matter of priority on the preparation of a formal decision to implement this commitment, with due regard to the flexibility that could be needed by Member States in the implementation of the decision, in particular to accommodate unforeseen developments.”

In response to calls from eastern and northern EU states concerned that relocating asylum-seekers could attract more people to the bloc, diplomats noted that the draft also includes strong language on the need for tighter control of the external EU borders, rapid screening of arrivals and prompt deportations of those considered not to be in need of refugee status.

Writing by Alastair Macdonald

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