Berlin, Paris, London seek urgent EU meeting on migrant crisis

A child of a migrant family creeps under the barbed fence near the village of Roszke on the Hungarian-Serbian border on Aug 28, 2015.
A child of a migrant family creeps under the barbed fence near the village of Roszke on the Hungarian-Serbian border on Aug 28, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Germany, France and Britain made a joint call on Sunday for an urgent meeting of EU interior and justice ministers to find concrete measures to cope with the escalating migration crisis.

The interior ministers of the three countries "have asked the Luxembourg presidency to organise a special meeting of justice and interior ministers within the next two weeks, so as to find concrete steps" on the crisis, they said in a statement.

The call came after Germany's Thomas de Maiziere, Britain's Theresa May and France's Bernard Cazeneuve spoke on Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting in Paris on transport security.

The trio "underlined the necessity to take immediate action to deal with the challenge from the migrant influx".

They also called for reception centres to be set up urgently in Italy and Greece in order to register new arrivals, and for a common EU list of "safe countries of origin" to be established.

Berlin, which is expecting to receive 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, has been pushing for such a list, arguing that it would free up resources to help those fleeing war and persecution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that the attitude of a number of eastern European countries towards the migrant crisis facing the EU is "scandalous", pointing in particular to an anti-migrant barrier in Hungary.

"When I see a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east, who do not accept quotas (of migrants), I find it scandalous," he told Europe 1 radio.

Germany has acted "courageously", with the support of France, "but Europe as a whole must assume its responsibilities", said Mr Fabius.

He specifically pointed to a razor-wire barrier along Hungary's border with non-EU member Serbia, aimed at keeping out migrants, which Fabius said "did not respect Europe's common values".

The barrier consisting of three rolls of razor wire along the 175-kilometre frontier is however failing to prevent people getting across, AFP saw in a recent visit.

A 4m-high fence is due to follow and is already being built by the Hungarian army which will "also provide a defence against illegal border-crossers", according to the country's defence ministry.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and of the visa-free Schengen zone, has this year intercepted more than 140,000 migrants entering from Serbia.