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Finland calls for EU quota system for when migration hits crisis levels

Ahead of an EU summit on Thursday, interior minister Petteri Orpo comes out in support of member states being forced to accept a share of asylum seekers during times of mass migration.

Petteri Orpo Image: Markku Ojala / AOP

Finland’s interior minister, Petteri Orpo, has called for EU countries to be forced to accept quotas of asylum seekers during crisis situations, on the eve of a summit to discuss reform of the EU’s migration policy.

EU interior ministers will convene in Luxemburg on Thursday to try to reach agreement on how the union should deal with new arrivals, after the mass migration of last autumn is widely seen as having rendered the current system, based on the so-called “Dublin regulation”, unworkable.

Under the Dublin rules, a refugee’s first EU country of arrival becomes the one to deal with any potential asylum claim. The idea behind the system was to speed-up decision making and avoid asylum seekers becoming stuck in a bureaucratic battle between two member states. However, the protocol became widely ignored during the recent migration crisis, in part due to the sheer numbers of people arriving in individual EU border countries such as Greece.

Two new models

At Thursday’s meeting, interior ministers will discuss two new models for how the EU deals with migrants in future. Under the first proposal, an emergency mechanism of quotas, whereby asylum seekers are distributed to member states across the EU, would kick in during times of mass migration. Under the second option, the Dublin arrangement would be scrapped altogether and replaced with permanent quotas, forcing member countries to take in a share of asylum seekers arriving within the EU.

In a statement on Wednesday, interior minister Petteri Orpo said that Finland is firmly in favour of a temporary quota system.

”Finland’s position is in support of a system of interior relocations that could be implemented in times of crisis, when the number of people arriving puts a member state’s adherence to the Dublin regulation at risk and causes serious disruption to the whole EU. All member states would participate in the interior relocations,” the statement said.

The idea of forced quotas has so far been strongly opposed by a number of EU states, including the UK.

At the meeting the ministers will also try to reach agreement on ways to standardise the asylum process and asylum decisions across the EU’s 28 member states. The EU’s deal to return migrants to Turkey in exchange for accepting Syrian refugees from Turkish camps is also on the agenda.

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