EU fails to reach migrant-sharing accord

Refugees and migrants hold a banner and shout slogans as they walk in the direction of the Croatian border, in Belgrade, Serbia, Nov 11, 2016.
Refugees and migrants hold a banner and shout slogans as they walk in the direction of the Croatian border, in Belgrade, Serbia, Nov 11, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU interior ministers said on Friday (Nov 18) they remained far from reaching a compromise on how to share the burden of migrants who have entered Europe en masse.

The European Union has struggled to implement a deal struck in September last year to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece as eastern member states reject quotas and others drag their feet.

"There is still a lot of disagreement on this," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said at talks in Brussels.

"Every member state has to take a certain share of the refugees. Beyond this it can be possible to provide efforts in solidarity in different ways," de Maiziere said.

More talks are needed, he added.

Frontline Italy scoffed at the notion of "flexible solidarity" as eastern member states reject their quota of asylum-seekers but offer financial or other help instead.

"It's more rigid mockery than flexible solidarity," Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano tweeted.

Italy has seen 167,000 migrants arrive on its territory since January, several thousand more than for all of last year.

Hungary and Slovakia have taken their outright opposition to the refugee-sharing plan to the European Court of Justice.

Some 7,500 people have been relocated since last September when the EU agreed to relocate 160,000 mostly Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

The plan was to complete the relocations by September 2017.