The debate over European Union migrant quotas has become more heated with the Commission deputy chief saying it is ‘unacceptable’ for EU states to reject the system.
Speaking in Strasbourg Frans Timmermans defended the Commission’s proposal to relocate 20,000 asylum seekers across the European Union.
“ I know these are challenging proposals. I know they will prompt debates and controversy in member states but it is really not acceptable for people around the EU to say ‘stop the drowning’ and at the same time to say, ‘but don’t bring the people here’,” Timmermans said.
EU countries including the UK, France and Spain have rejected the quota proposal with Hungary’s president going as far as saying it borders on insanity.
Italy, which has borne the brunt of trying to save migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to flee war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, pushed its partners to hold an EU summit last month to seek common solutions to the problem. But since then Rome has accused the bloc of backtracking on commitments made at the meeting.
Meanwhile there is EU agreement for a naval mission to target gangs smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean.
On Tuesday Italian police detained eight people,on suspicion of being migrant traffickers.
The men were picked up from their fishing boat which had over 200 migrants on board.
Around 51,000 migrants have entered Europe by crossing the Mediterranean this year, with 30,500 going via Italy. About 1,800 have drowned in the attempt according to the UN refugee agency.