Diplomats warn of ‘blood on the walls’ after EU leaders stitch up deal to force Eastern European countries to take their share of 160,000 refugees

Daily Mail, 22 September 2015

EU leaders have tonight stitched up a deal to force countries to take in refugees against their will.

Eastern European countries were told they would have to welcome thousands of asylum seekersunder the mandatory quota system to relocate 160,000 people from Greece and Italy after they were out-voted at a Brussels summit.

Diplomats warned the decision to over-rule the autonomy of countries on such a sensitive issue was a ‘big moment’ in the history of the union and could lead to ‘blood on the walls’.

Slovakia immediately announced it would defy the decision following the deal, with Prime Minister Robert Fico saying that 'as long as I am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory'

The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary tried to block the plan but their vehement opposition was over-ridden after it was decided to use a majority vote at the meeting of interior ministers rather than consensus.

A diplomat from one of the countries opposed to the plan described the atmosphere around the council table as ‘terrible’, adding: ‘This is a bad day for Europe.’

Countries in favour of the quotas showed little grace after forcing them through. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the plan had been approved by a ‘crushing majority’. ‘This decision is testament to the capacity of Europe to take responsibility and progress,’ he said.

At tonight’s summit, ministers used a majority vote to force the crucial decision on the European Commission plan to relocate a further 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece. Countries had already agreed a plan to distribute 40,000 voluntarily at a meeting last week but the new mandatory quotas being pushed by countries including Germany were highly contentious.

Hours before the meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to do everything to resolve the redistribution of refugees by consensus, rather than simply outvoting Eastern European countries that strongly oppose the plan. She said: ‘It’s worth every effort to do everything to be able to decide by consensus among the 28 member states, rather than by qualified majority, on important questions such as the distribution of refugees.’ But at the summit the decision was taken by a majority vote, with four Eastern European countries opposing and Finland abstaining.

Britain did not have a vote because it has already opted out of taking part.

Prague warned that the scheme would be unworkable and could end in ‘big ridicule’ for governments and EU authorities. ‘We will soon realise that the emperor has no clothes. Common sense lost today,’ Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec tweeted after the vote.

Ukip MEP Jane Collins said: ‘There is now no escaping the fact that immigration will be decided by Brussels. ‘What we have witnessed today is four countries who wish to control who settles in their country being outvoted by foreign government.’

The EU’s border-free travel area, the Schengen Zone, has unravelled in the past fortnight as Germany, Austria, Slovenia have brought back checks.

Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said: ‘The creation of the Schengen area is one of the greatest achievements of the EU and it is irreversible.’

Tory MEP Timothy Kirkhope said: ‘My greatest fear is that forcing such a divisive issue to a vote will have negative consequences in the long run. All 28 EU countries need to work together to manage this crisis and alienating major European states makes finding common solutions even harder. This is not a long term solution to this crisis; It is a sticking plaster, and the way it has been handled diminishes much of the good will that will be needed to find genuine long term and more permanent solutions. We hear a lot about ‘solidarity’ in the EU. Enforcing a plan on a country that is strongly opposed to it is not solidarity, it is compulsion.’

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