EU may punish states for failing to take refugees

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans addresses the media at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Updated 08 February 2017
0

EU may punish states for failing to take refugees

BRUSSELS, Belgium The EU warned Wednesday that it will consider punishing member states next month if they fail to share the burden of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.
European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans criticized the bloc for having so far admitted only 12,000 of the 160,000 Syrian and other refugees required to be relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU countries by September this year.
He said Brussels still hoped “peer pressure” would convince recalcitrant countries, but that it would consider penalties if there had been no progress by the time its next report on the issue comes out in March.
“That is the right moment to consider other options if they are necessary,” Timmermans told a press conference.
“The commission might start infraction procedures and we will certainly consider that.”
EU countries can be hit with large financial penalties by the commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, if they break the union’s rules.
Timmermans added that it was “highly unfair” to leave overstretched Greece and Italy to try to persuade other countries, particularly Eastern European states where there is resistance to Muslim immigration.
Countries like Hungary and Slovakia have proposed paying “solidarity” contributions instead of actually taking in any migrants.
But countries like France and Germany insist that no country can shirk its duty to admit a minimum number of refugees under the plan, which was pushed through in September 2015.
In a more upbeat note, Timmermans said member states had now admitted 14,000 refugees directly from camps in the Middle East, more than half way toward the goal of 22,000.


Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

Updated 5 min 1 sec ago
0

Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe: “There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur.”
  • There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.

PRAIA: Cape Verde has opened an investigation after 25 African migrants were found off the coast of Brazil after reportedly spending five weeks at sea.
The country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe said the migrant boat started its great journey in the west African archipelago.
“There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur,” Filipe Tavaras said on TV Wednesday night.
On Saturday, local fishermen found the catamaran, flying the Haitian flag, drifting off the Brazilian coastal town of Sao Jose de Ribamar, south of the Amazon river, the Brazilian navy said.
There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.
The migrants came from Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal on the other side of the Atlantic, the human rights department for Brazil’s state of Maranhao said in a statement.
They had reportedly spent 35 days afloat but there was no immediate indication of what route they had taken.
Brazilian police will investigate possible crimes committed against the migrants and evaluate their legal situation.
Cape Verde, a group of nine inhabited volcanic islands, lies some 500 kilometers (300 miles) off the west African countries of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
The islands gained independence from Portugal in 1975, after an 11-year liberation war.