Cameron confirms UK staying out of EU refugee quotas

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain would not participate in a binding European system of quotas to resettle refugees.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain would not participate in a binding European system of quotas to resettle refugees.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday (Sept 9) defended Britain's decision not to participate in a binding European system of quotas to resettle refugees as the proposals were unveiled in Brussels.

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude announced "bold plans" to share 160,000 refugees between member states to ease Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II, as Greece and Hungary struggle to cope with the influx from Syria and elsewhere.

"If all the focus is on redistributing quotas of refugees around Europe, that won't solve the problem and it actually sends a message to people that actually it's a good idea to get on a boat and make that perilous journey," Cameron told MPs in parliament.

"Europe has to reach its own answers, for those countries that are part of Schengen. Britain, which has its own borders, has the ability to make sovereign decisions." Britain is exempt from EU asylum and migration policy and Cameron had already made it clear that the country will not be involved in any quota system.

The British prime minister vowed Monday to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years from camps near the war-torn country's borders.

But members of the Labour opposition party said the pledge did not go far enough as it failed to address the huge numbers of migrants who have already reached Europe's shores.

Pressed by interim Labour leader Harriet Harman on the number of refugees Britain would take this year, Cameron declined to give a figure but said there would be "no limit".

"We've committed to taking 20,000 people, I want us to get on with that," he said.