May 18, 2015 / 6:43 AM / 5 years ago

EU's Tusk says new return policy needed to solve migrants problem

Migrants are disembarked from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship MV Phoenix in the Sicilian harbour of Messina, Italy May 16, 2015. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello

WARSAW (Reuters) - European Council President Donald Tusk said that the European Union cannot welcome all migrants fleeing to its shores and will have to work out a new return policy to tackle the problem.

“I am realistic and I think that first of all we have to work out a new return policy, which would be a policy of sending them back,” Tusk said in an interview in the Polska The Times daily on Monday.

“In a responsible manner we can talk about welcoming only a defined group of immigrants... Those who say let’s open the door widely are cynical since they know it is not possible.”

A series of disasters in the Mediterranean in which hundreds of migrants from North Africa have drowned after attempting to cross the sea in overcrowded and unsafe vessels has sharpened international focus on the issue of migration into Europe.

The European Commission is planning to legislate before the end of the year to ensure the burden of housing immigrants is shared across the bloc, according to binding quotas based on criteria such as economic health and population.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Nick Macfie

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