The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has unveiled a proposal to relocate up to 160,000 migrants and refugees across the continent in what is one of Europe's largest efforts to address any migration crisis.
The plan comes as Europe struggles to deal with the escalating refugee crisis in its territory, where hundreds and thousands of people have arrived fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Figures from the United Nations show that 381,412 people arrived to the EU by sea in 2015 alone – the vast majority (51 percent) of whom are from war torn Syria.
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In his first ever State of the Union address, Juncker told the EU to look at its history and not be afraid of his proposals, referring to his scheme of implementing binding quotas for certain states to accept the asylum seekers.
“Now is not the time to take fright, it is time for bold, determined action for the European Union,” said Mr. Juncker during his address Wednesday.
“It is 160,000 that Europe has to take into their arms, this has to be done in a compulsory way. I call on the council to agree to take 160,000 at the interior ministers' meeting on September 14,” he said during his 80-minute speech.
Under the proposal, the EU would allocate quotas of refugees to 22 nations across Europe, with Germany, France and Spain taking some 60 percent of people.
Though Mr. Juncker's announcement has been described as “bold,” the number is minimal compared to how many asylum seekers are in Europe now, and how many more are expected to arrive.
Germany alone expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers this year, while 20,000 people arrived there last weekend.
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