EU leaders claim unity regained, pledge aid for Syrians

Updated: 2015-09-24 10:21


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Establishing a principle of "relocating" some asylum-seekers has been a key demand of Italy in particular, which wants to end a rule that states they should remain in the first EU state they enter. Northern countries accuse Italy and Greece of undermining the Schengen area by simply letting migrants move on unchecked.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said a package of EU-run relocations and deportations and EU-funded frontier forces meant Rome's partners had finally accepted demands it has been making for years to spread the load of migrant arrivals by sea.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a robust defence of the razor-wire fencing he has erected to keep out migrants; he insisted he was only following EU rules and said that if Greece could not defend its borders, Athens should ask for help.

On a visit to Germany earlier in the day, Orban accused Berlin of "moral imperialism" for encouraging Syrian refugees to try and reach the German frontier. But in Brussels he said he would not criticise Germany whom he praised as a valued partner.

Orban's Slovak ally, Prime Minister Robert Fico, said he would challenge in EU courts the imposition of quotas on states for taking in 120,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece.

"We have been refusing this nonsense from the beginning, and as a sovereign country we have the right to sue," Fico said.

Collectively, national leaders were chided by the executive European Commission when it named 19 countries for breaches of EU asylum laws. The Commission, among proposals adopted at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, also called on them to reverse cuts in their funding for the World Food Programme.

Overall, Juncker said, the EU had doubled the funds targeted to deal with migration to 9.5 billion euros. ($1 = 0.8944 euros)


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