September 7, 2015 / 2:47 PM / 4 years ago

EU-sceptics in Finland's ruling coalition reject EU asylum seeker quotas

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s co-governing, nationalist Finns party on Monday rejected a European Commission plan to have member states take in assigned quotas of asylum-seekers among an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe this year.

“The Finns party will not support this proposal, as it didn’t back the previous so-called voluntary necessity,” Sampo Terho, the head of the party’s MP group told STT news agency.

He noted that Finland’s new governing coalition parties had agreed before the summer that any EU plan to apportion asylum seekers country-by-country should be based on voluntary participation.

However, in July, Interior Minister Petteri Orpo of the pro-EU National Coalition party agreed to take about 800 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, kindling a dispute with its governing partner, the EU-sceptic Finns.

“We said already then that this will only be the beginning (of quotas) if we take this path, and now it is happening sooner that one would have thought,” Terho told STT.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to unveil new proposals on Wednesday on how to distribute refugees among member states according to quotas. Opposition has come mainly from governments of poorer eastern EU state.

The Finns party, led by Foreign Minister Timo Soini, joined the government in May for the first time in its history after campaigning in election on a nationalist platform including tighter immigration policy.

The government last week doubled its estimate for the number of asylum seekers expected in the Nordic country this year to up to 30,000, compared with just 3,600 last year.

Germany, struggling to cope with a record influx of asylum seekers, told EU partners on Monday they must take a greater share of refugees since the burden could not fall on just a few member states.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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