News 14 Sep 15

Romania Opposes Mandatory EU Refugee Quotas

Bucharest repeated that it will not take in more than 1,785 refugees and migrants, despite a request from the European Commission to accept several thousand more.

Marian Chiriac
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea.

Romanian Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea said on Monday that Bucharest will reject the European Commission’s plan for national quotas for refugees.

“I have a clear mandate from the president and from the prime minister to politely refuse the EC request,” Oprea said before leaving for Brussels, where EU interior ministers will hold a meeting on the refugee crisis.

“We will respect our initial agreement, to take in 1,785 migrants. That is the current capacity of Romania,” he added.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, proposed a new plan last Wednesday for accepting 160,000 refugees into the EU. The proposal presented to the European Parliament added another 40,000 to an existing plan for quotas set in May.

Under the revised quotas, Romania would receive 4,646 incomers, Bulgaria 1,600 and Croatia 1,064. The biggest quotas are given to Germany, with 31,443 refugees, and France with 24,031.

Besides the plan for national quotas, Juncker said the Western Balkan states should be put on a list of safe countries of origin, which means that people coming from these states will be classified strictly as economic migrants and cannot claim asylum.

Romania’s Supreme Defence Council is to decide this week how many refugees the country can accommodate, but the number cannot exceed the current capacity of some 1,785 places in six reception centres, officials have said.

As yet, Romania has not been hit by the wave of refugees of migrants crossing the Balkans towards Germany and northern Europe. Only 913 people have applied for asylum this year so far, 12 per cent more than in 2014.

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