Controversially, a meeting of European Union interior ministers last Monday failed to reach a deal on quotas to distribute 120,000 migrants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the country to stop enforcing the EU’s “Dublin” rules under which asylum seekers should register in whichever member state they first arrive in.
Almost half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, two-fifths of them from Syria, in a surge that has overwhelmed countries like Greece and Hungary. While the leaders are expected to sign off on any proposals agreed by justice ministers, they will also discuss more long-term measures. Authorities continued erecting tents and building makeshift shelters throughout the weekend for refugees to lodge in temporarily, as the country came under fire for its response, especially from neighboring Hungary.
Instead, countries will be invited to accept the settlement of refugees on a “voluntary” basis, a compromise that will produce the same result but which preserves the sovereignty of states.
British prime minister David Cameron has said his country will take 20,000 – but only from Syria and over a period of five years.
Compared with the previous quarter, the number of first time asylum applicants in the second quarter notably jumped in the Netherlands (+159 per cent), Latvia (+123 per cent), Austria (+79 per cent), Finland (+67 per cent) and Denmark (+66 per cent).
Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk public radio she expects German unemployment figures to rise next year due to “a significant increase” in the number of refugees seeking work as “not every refugee who comes now is already automatically a qualified worker”.
The office had repeatedly come in for criticism amid a huge backlog in handling a record wave of asylum requests as Europe faces its worst migration crisis since World War II.
Europe faces the task of processing hundreds of thousands of refugee applications – and identifying those in genuine need of asylum.
Many of them have reached Germany after taking a perilous route through the Balkans and central Europe.
Police in the state of Bavaria said 1,700 people arrived in the town of Passau from Austria yesterday by train and they were taken to a new reception centre for refugees in the town of Feldkirchen.
Hungary was the European state with the largest number of asylum seekers relative to its population, at 3,317 per million inhabitants.