BRUSSELS – The Latest on the influx of migrants in Europe (all times local):
Hungary's prime minister says a group of countries in eastern Europe supports the idea of setting up screening centers "hotspots" outside the European Union where asylum-seekers can present their requests for protection.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after a meeting on Thursday of the so-called Visegrad Group — made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — that the countries continue to reject any EU quota plans for dispersing asylum-seekers throughout Europe.
Hungary has long been a proponent of establishing so-called "hotspots" in Africa where people hoping to emigrate to Europe can be pre-screened. The new Italian government endorsed the idea this week.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attending the Visegrad Group meeting in Budapest as a guest. He says his government, which takes over the rotating, six-month EU presidency on July 1, would strive for a "protective Europe" which can defend the continent's welfare and prosperity.
The European Commission says it's scrutinizing new laws passed in Hungary that ban homelessness and allow jail sentences for people convicted of aiding asylum-seekers.
Spokesman Christian Wigand said Thursday that the European Union's executive arm "will take the necessary steps" based on its analysis and an assessment by Europe's constitutional watchdog.
Wigand said "it is not without concern that we are following these developments and these new proposals," adding: "we should not turn our back on the values and principles on which Europe is built."
If Hungary's move is deemed to contravene EU laws, the Commission could take legal action against Hungary similar to steps it is taking against Poland over concerns about the judiciary there. It could result in Hungary losing EU voting rights.
The European Union's top migration official says the EU wants to screen migrants in centers in northern Africa to see whether they are eligible for asylum and prevent people trying to enter Europe by boat.
Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Thursday that the bloc wants to open "regional disembarkation platforms" in countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.
Avramopoulos said "we would like significantly to intensify our cooperation with these countries." He said that in return they would receive "increased financial and material support."
None of the countries has yet agreed to take part.
The U.N. refugee agency says that around 40,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, landing mainly in Italy, Greece and Spain.