Europe

EU urged to share migrant load as refugee plan languishes

  • In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 photo, Syrian refugee Elan Darwish, 14 months, sleeps inside his family's tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 photo, Syrian refugee Elan Darwish, 14 months, sleeps inside his family's tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Syrian refugee men lift weights while practicing at a makeshift gym in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Syrian refugee men lift weights while practicing at a makeshift gym in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union's top migration official is urging EU countries to agree on a way to fairly distribute the load of migrant arrivals, as the bloc's plan to share refugees languishes.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Thursday that member states must finally define the notion of "solidarity," as Greece and Italy struggle to deal with tens of thousands of migrants.

He said "it's the moment for all of us to interpret in the same way this term. It's absolutely necessary."

EU nations agreed in September 2015 to share 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy over two years. But only around 11,000 refugees have been shifted, seven months before the plan expires.

Earlier this week, Avramopoulos ruled out taking action soon against countries not respecting the legally binding deal.