EU plans emergency summit as countries struggle with refugee surge

European Union supports refugee sharing program despite opposition


The leaders of the European Union are meeting for an emergency summit Wednesday to find a long-term solution to the continent's deepening refugee crisis. The meeting comes as countries struggle to cope with the growing number of refugees crossing into Europe from conflict countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

"There is a long list of issues where we could blame one another, but it will not help us in finding a common solution,” EU President Donald Tusk said in a letter to member state presidents and prime ministers. "Today we must absolutely work out policies that we can implement in order to help each other."

Earlier this week, the EU announced a quota redistributing 120,000 refugees across the EU. It also said it hopes to provide more than $1.1 billion in aid to Syrian refugees and release another $1.1 billion for Turkey, which has taken in nearly 2 million refugees.

Meanwhile, EU’s executive branch has announced it’s launching 40 new cases against 19 member states it claims are failing to implement the 28-nation’s asylum rules.

The prime minister of Hungary, one of the nations accused of failing to implement the asylum policy, said Wednesday he strongly opposes the new EU quota and wants the whole world to share the burden.

Slovakia, Romania and Czechoslovakia are also opposed to the EU’s plan, with Slovakia saying it will be taking legal action, Sky News reports. Czechoslovakia says it won’t take legal action, and while Romania says it has the ability to share the redistribution burden, it disagrees with the way the quota was decided.

Last week, Croatia shut all but one of its crossings with Serbia to block the refugee surge, which reached 44,000 in a week. The move comes amid tension between Croatia and Serbia over the latter’s move to send refugees to its border rather than north of Hungary.

Turkey also has begun taking action against the refugee surge, enforcing long-dormant rules on Syrians' travel within the country.

According to The Associated Press, the move appears to be aimed at preventing refugees from reaching the Turkish city of Edirne, where hundreds are staging a sit-in near the Greek border.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is pushing for EU countries to deport more of the so-called economic migrants and has opted out of the EU’s redistribution plan.

“EU countries should do more to return migrants who don't have a genuine claim for asylum to their countries of origin," Cameron said.

Britain has pledged instead to accept 20,000 Syrians from camps in neighboring countries by 2020.

Poland, which hasn’t openly opposed the redistribution plan, says it will accept some 7,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea from 2016-2017 and Berlin is considering confiscating empty apartments to house refugees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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