EU parliament backs refugee relocation plan

European Parliament backs Commission’s plan to relocate 120,000 refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Migrants wait to enter a transit camp in Macedonia, after entering country by crossing border with Greece on September 16, 2015

The European Parliament declared its support on Thursday for plans submitted by the European Commission to relocate 120,000 refugees around the EU to ease pressure on Greece, Hungary and Italy.

In an emergency vote on Thursday, lawmakers approved the proposal with 372 votes to 124 and 54 absentions. The ministers will meet again next Tuesday at a possible summit with EU leaders to reconsider the plans.

The parliament had to approve the plans before EU member states backed the plan.

“We are very grateful to the European Parliament for understanding the urgency of this matter,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said before the vote in Brussels.

Timmermans said after the approval of the plan the Comission and Parliament “can say to the Council that the moment to act is now,” referring to the 28-nation European Council.

"The speed with which the European Parliament is giving its opinion is obviously down to the extreme urgency," a spokesman for the office of parliament head Martin Schulz said.

In response to the European Parliament’s vote, the Commission said they appreciated for the support and called on EU member states to take “necessary decisions” at the emergency Justice and Home Affairs council meeting due on Sept. 22.

The Commission praised the parliament for processing an emergency procedure to vote in favour of the Brussels plan just a week after it was first declared.

"The path is now clear for the Council to adopt our proposal," it said in a statement.

"Hopes of a unanimous deal collapsed in the face of opposition from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania at the crisis meeting in Brussels," officials said.

This year, almost 500,000 refugees entered Europe fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa . EU member states have so far agreed to relocate only 40,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

EU interior ministers failed to support the plan on Monday.

TRTWorld and agencies