Sweden, which holds the bloc's rotating presidency, announced the breakthrough after a day of negotiations between EU interior ministers in Luxembourg. Several years of wrangling over asylum policy led to the approval of the deal from a majority of countries representing at least 65 percent of the bloc's population, the Reuters agency reported.
European interior affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson hailed a "hugely significant step" for the EU on migration. "
"These are not easy decisions for everyone around the table, but they are historic decisions", said German interior minister Nancy Faeser.
Hosting asylum-seekers, including those coming from nations on the bloc's outer rim, mainly Greece and Italy, is a priority of the deal. The agreement said nations that refused would instead be required to pay 20,000 euros per person into a fund managed by Brussels, the state PAP agency reported.
Poland and Hungary voted against the proposals, while Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania, and Slovakia abstained.
Bartosz Grodecki, Deputy Minister of Interior and Administration, pointed to the political weight of this proposal.
"Such a decision should be discussed in the European Council, where unanimity exists," he said. "Regarding the package itself, Poland firmly opposes the idea of solidarity, understood as either accepting asylum seekers or paying EUR 20,000 per person not admitted. If it is obligatory, we can’t talk about solidarity", believes the deputy minister and points out that solidarity should be voluntary.
According to Grodecki, the financial issue is also unacceptable.
"After such an effort to accept the Ukrainians, they want us to inform the Poles that they are to pay 20,000 euros each for refugees in other countries?" – he argued. According to him, this package does not solve the migration problem.
SOURCE: PAP, Reuters, IAR