The EU needs immediate action to deal with the influx of immigrants, the interior ministers of Germany, France and Britain have said in a statement. The three countries urged new “hot spots” for registration of refugees.
The politicians asked “the Luxembourg presidency to organize a special meeting of justice and interior ministers within the next two weeks, so as to find concrete steps” on the crisis, said Germany’s Thomas de Maiziere, Britain’s Theresa May and France’s Bernard Cazeneuve.
The ministers also called for an EU-wide list of “safe countries of origin” in their joint statement on Sunday. Such a list would help identify people threatened by war and persecution by automatically sifting out migrants from politically stable countries.
In addition, the representatives of the three biggest EU countries called for the establishment of “hot spots” in Greece and Italy, allowing the authorities to take fingerprints and register the incoming migrants. The checkpoints should be established by the end of the year, the ministers said.
“We agree that we have no more time to lose. The current situation demands immediate action and solidarity in Europe,” said de Maiziere.
A meeting of the bloc’s interior ministers to discuss the crisis was then called for September 14, to take place in Luxembourg.
Berlin under pressure
Germany is an especially vocal supporter of the EU-wide list of safe countries, as it would make thousands of asylum seekers from Balkan nations easier to deport. The European powerhouse is set to receive some 800,000 refugees by the end of the year, and is struggling to provide housing and security.
The officials hope that reducing the number of so-called “economic refugees” would free up resources for helping people from crisis areas such as Iraq and Syria. Germany has also called on other EU countries to pull their weight in taking in immigrants.
“The challenges can be overcome only with a joint European asylum policy,” de Maiziere said.
Also on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged “Europe as a whole” to assume its responsibilities towards the refugees.
“When I see a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east, who do not accept quotas (of migrants), I find it scandalous,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Fabius specifically criticized the barrier Hungary erected along its border with Serbia, in a bid to stop the flow of migrants. The razor-wire barrier does “not respect Europe’s common values”, according to Fabius.
The EU member Hungary has intercepted more than 140,000 migrants coming across the Serbian border this year. The barricade is soon to be enforced with a four-meter-high (13-foot) fence.