France backs EU plan for refugee quotas

PARIS (REUTERS) - France is backing a European Union (EU) proposal to redistribute refugees more evenly among member countries, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Monday.

The plan, to be unveiled this week by the European Union's executive Commission, will call for a quota system to ease the burden on the region's southern states, notably Italy.

Rome is clamouring for more EU help to deal with thousands of migrants reaching Europe by boat from Libya, and pressure for action intensified last month when around 800 drowned after a Mediterranean shipwreck.

"This proposal ... was partly inspired by proposals made by France. It's reasonable that there should be a redistribution of the numbers in the European Union," Cazeneuve told RTL radio station.

Some other countries not on the front line of the migrant exodus also back a quota system, notably Germany and Austria, but the proposal needs approval from all 28 EU governments, which is far from certain. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban described it as a "mad idea" on Friday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.