EU pushes through plan to relocate 120,000 refugees amid oppositions

Updated: 2015-09-23 10:36


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EU pushes through plan to relocate 120,000 refugees amid oppositions

Migrants look out from the window of a train as they wait to depart from the railway station in Tovarnik, Croatia, September 21, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - The governments of European Union (EU) member countries approved the proposal to relocate 120,000 migrants by a majority vote on Tuesday amid fierce oppositions from several countries in central and eastern Europe.

The European Commission has proposed resettling the 120,000 refugees on top of the 40,000 refugees that member states have already agreed to relocate from EU countries exposed to massive migratory flows.

Home affairs ministers of EU member states gathered in Brussels Tuesday for the second time in as many weeks to resolve the dispute over the relocation plan. As EU member states were wildly divided over the issue, the decision was at last pushed through by a vote on Tuesday.

The decision established a temporary and exceptional relocation mechanism over two years from the frontline member states Italy and Greece to other member states, it said in a statement after the meeting.

Following this decision, the EU is now in a position to relocate a total of 160,000 people in clear need of international protection in the coming two years.

According to the decision, 66,000 persons will be relocated from Italy and Greece (15,600 from Italy and 50,400 from Greece). The remaining 54,000 persons will be relocated from Italy and Greece in the same proportion after one year of the entry into force of the decision.

EU said the member states participating in the mechanism will receive a lump sum of 6,000 euros for each relocated person.

However, the plan was outright resisted by some member states, including Britain and several countries in central Europe.

"We, the Slovaks, Romanians, Hungarians [were] against, Finland abstained. The plan was adopted," Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec wrote on Twitter after the vote.

The minister said the plan was an "empty political gesture" ahead of the meeting, though he previously said his country was ready to take in thousands of people on a voluntary basis.

Denmark and the United Kingdom are not participating in this decision.

"We would have prepared to have adoption by consensus but we did not manage to achieve that. Some member states did not join this large majority. They pointed out their other legitimate points of view," said Jean Asselborn, Minister for Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg.

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