President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker will propose an expanded scheme to relocate asylum seekers from Hungary, Greece and Italy according to national quotas, senior EU officials confirmed today. Estonia said it will stand firmly against any distribution key.
According to official sources, the number of people to be relocated within the EU will be raised to 160,000 people.
The new package of measures will be presented to the European Parliament on September 9, Reuters reported.
"There again, we will propose to member states to make sure that we have a distribution key, so that European solidarity is put into practice, to make sure the people who arrive in Europe are spread in the member states," EC First Vice President Frans Timmermans said.
The first plan to use a distribution key to relocate refugees failed in June, when national governments finally agreed to receive refugees on voluntary basis. Instead of the proposed 1,064 asylum seekers, Estonia is to take on 150 over 48 months.
However, if the distribution key is once again on the table, as documents leaked to the European press seem to suggest, it could face receiving up to 3,256 more.
Minister of the Internal Affairs Hanno Pevkur held a press conference today, saying the only way to successfully relocate refugees is on voluntary basis. This will avoid trust-issues and the collapse of the Schengen area, he said.
"It's also important for the EC to understand that if government heads have already said that coercion is not a solution, the Commission won't come out with a proposal that was rejected once before," Pevkur said.
He added that Estonia's position on the number of refugees it is willing to receive has not changed. He also stressed that all economic migrants must be sent back.
Estonia will show solidarity but protect it's interests by legal means. "Our arguments cannot and will not be emotional or subjective when arguing our case," he said.
European interior ministers will meet on Brussels on September 14.
Editor: M. Oll