A Syrian refugee receives assistance near Hungary's border with Austria
UPDATE: The late-night meeting of EU ambassadors wrapped up early (when you consider the EU’s penchant for working through the night), at 10.30pm.
While most of Brussels was getting ready for bed on Sunday night, diplomats from across the EU were locked in a room hammering out a rough agreement on how to deal with the mounting refugee crisis ahead of the crunch meeting of interior ministers on Monday. Brussels Blog saw the draft conclusions the ambassadors from the 28 EU member took into their session, and it’s a bit of a mix for the ambitious and the political.
Ministers are likely to agree on the European Commission’s new target of divvying up 120,000 extra refugees, on top of the 40,000 EU countries have already agreed to relocate. There is, however, no mention of the word “mandatory” or “compulsory” in the draft document, as the commission had demanded.
Earlier on Sunday, the language in draft communiqué on the relocation targets read like this: “In light of the current exceptional emergency situation, the Council has committed to relocate an additional 120,000 persons in need of international protection from Member States exposed to massive migratory flows.” Officials will decide on the details of how those migrants in Greece, Italy and Hungary will be distributed sometime in the next month, aiming to get it adopted at the next meeting of interior ministers, which is on October 8.
There is, however, one major problem: Hungary. While other once-reluctant central European countries have agreed to back the scheme – on the condition that it is voluntary – Hungary threatened to oppose the measures altogether. Despite Hungary being one of the beneficiaries of the scheme, along with Italy and Greece, Budapest is not happy with the terms of the policy, the manner of its introduction, or…well…anything to do with the refugee crisis, really.