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UN General Assembly discusses refugee crisis, EC announces €1.7bn plan

On Wednesday, The migration crisis was at the heart of the debate at the United Nations General Assembly. Many European leaders who spoke at the General Assembly insisted on the need to make migration a global issue. For instance, European Council President Donald Tusk denounced other UN countries that criticise EU migration policy but do not take in refugees themselves, Lithuanian M1 Plius reports. Also on Wednesday, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán addressed the UN General Assembly in New York. Mr Orbán said the crisis was not a refugee crisis, but a “mass migratory movement of economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and foreign fighters”, Magyar Nemzetindicates. Saying Europe cannot carry the burden alone; Mr Orbán called for a global quota system to distribute migrants to all countries.

Similarly, in his speech in front of the General Assembly, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called for an international system of quotas for migrants, The Malta Times reports. In the meantime, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a meeting on migration crises on the side-lines of the 70th UN General Assembly in New York. Trying to promote a “global approach,” he urged European countries to do more for the refugees, Les Echos reports. In the same vein, renowned investor George Soros argues in Die Welt for the establishment of a common European asylum policy, supported by global measures under the tutelage of the United Nations. The EU, Mr Soros adds, should take in one million asylum seekers annually in the near future.

Meanwhile, The European Commission presented Wednesday the first package of concrete proposals for €1.7 billion of EU funding in 2015 and 2016 to address the refugee crisis, reports in Bulgaria. The European Parliament and European Council are expected to approve the priority actions proposed as soon as possible. “We have advanced a lot in a short period of time”, EC President Juncker highlighted, while EC Vice-President Georgieva also praised the quick and flexible response from the Commission, Diário Económico reports in Portugal. European Commissioner in charge of Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, interviewed by BBC Radio 4, warned that “the flow of migrants will not stop” as long as the region in conflict is not stabilised.

Regarding the countries reluctant to implement the quotas, he insisted that this is a “binding decision,” adding: “I know it is not easy, but implementing this decision is the only way forward.” Nevertheless; the Financial Times and BBC Radio 4 report, that Slovakia plans to sue the EU over its plan to share 120,000 asylum seekers. Speaking to Cypriot newspaper Express on Wednesday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz called on Turkey to help with the refugee crisis, so as to reduce pressure on Greece; “we must closely cooperate with Turkey to help the country financially,” he said, announcing that EU officials will meet in Brussels with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

On the ground, the welcoming of refugees and the asylum-granting process are still at the heart of the debate. In an interview withRBB radio, German Home Affairs Minister Thomas de Maizière suggested rejecting refugees without a right to asylum directly at the borders. Moreover, Austrian Chancellery Minister Josef Ostermayer indicated that Austria might “coordinate its actions with Berlin” and introduce expedited asylum procedures as well.  In Italy La Repubblica reports that there is tension at the Lampedusa migrant identification centre (hotspot) because nobody knows how to implement the EU directives and migrants are refusing to be identified. The Prefect of Trapani said that “hotspots” and “hubs” are set to be “empty words.” Six hotspots are to be established in Italy, and five in Greece, the Austrian media report.

© europeanunion2015


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