EU states come to a long-delayed agreement on hosting refugees

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The long-stalled modification of EU regulations to ensure a more equitable division of hosting responsibilities for migrants and asylum seekers was finally approved, the EU stated on Thursday.

After a difficult day of talks with EU interior ministers in Luxembourg, Sweden, the current bearer of the rotating EU presidency, hailed the breakthrough.

This agreement, which required the consent of a majority of countries representing at least 65% of the bloc’s population, was the result of years of heated discussions and disagreements over asylum policy. Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, lauded the accord and called it a “hugely significant step” for the EU in resolving its immigration problems.

Two alternatives for execution were presented in the proposal that was put out during the meeting, which called for mandatory aid amongst EU nations. Priority should be given to sharing the hosting of asylum seekers among EU member states, particularly those who arrive in countries on the EU’s periphery, such as Greece and Italy. But those that decline to take part would be obligated to pay €20,000 ($21,000) per person to a fund run by Brussels.

The preliminary agreement cleared the way for negotiations with the European Parliament to establish legislation that might be implemented before the forthcoming European elections in June of next year, despite Poland and Hungary voting against the measures and Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania, and Slovakia abstaining.