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EU seeks compromise on migrant quotas

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EU seeks compromise on migrant quotas

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Just weeks into 2018 and the migrant crisis shows little sign of letting up.

Greece and Italy are at the forefront of the Mediterranean influx and Europe is struggling to reform asylum rules ahead of a June deadline.

The EU's mandatory migrant quota and relocation system aim to share the costs and responsibilities more equally across all member states.

But the proposal hasn't gone down well in Central Europe, where Poland, Bulgaria, Czechia and Slovakia have flat out refused to go along.

Now Germany's Interior Minister has signalled that his country won't force the quota system into an EU migration package.

"We want to keep these questions together as a package,"  Thomas de Maiziere told reporters at a meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria. "But it is important that we first try to find agreement on issues where agreement is easier. For example, common procedures, asylum conditions, the definition of family and much more. At the same time, we don't want to lose sight of the principle of fair distribution".

Dimiris Avramopoulus, European Comissioner for Migration, however, reiterated the need for Europe to work together on the issue.

"It is unaccepteble that some refuse to accept refugees. This is very clear. We all have to share in a proportianal way the responsibilities and the burden".

Last month, European Council President Donald Tusk called for an end to the quota system, saying it was dividing Eastern and Western member states. At the time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to push back and insist on the need for a quota system. Now Germany's willingness to negotiate could signal a breakthrough.