EU ministers approve refugee relocation plan

European Union ministers meeting in Brussels have approved a plan to relocate 120,000 refugees across Europe.

Some countries were opposed, the Twitter post from the Luxembourg mission to the European Union indicated.

It said the decision was adopted by a “large majority” of the EU’s 28 member states, without naming the opponents.

Some countries in Eastern Europe have resisted accepting the forced resettlement of refugees on their territory.

Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic voted against the plan. Ireland did not have a vote, as it has an automatic opt-out on justice matters.

A statement from the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, said: "The measure is for relocation from Greece and Italy.

"To allow for account to be taken of the rapidly evolving situation, 66,000 will be allocated initially for the relocation of people from Greece and Italy and there will be an option to relocate the balance of 54,000 people from other member states coming under pressure if necessary.

EU ministers approve refugee relocation plan

"This is in addition to the earlier decision to relocate some 40,000 such people from Italy and Greece, thus bringing the total number of people to be relocated to 160,000."

The Dáil will now be asked to sign off on Ireland's participation, which will involve around 1,800 refugees, although the Government has committed to taking more than twice that number.

Ms Fitzgerald said: "The Government has already announced that Ireland would be prepared to accept up to 4,000 persons in need of international protection, including the 520 programme refugees currently being resettled in Ireland directly from refugee camps."

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said his country would take more than 30,000 people.

“We are doing this out of solidarity and responsibility, but also in our own interest,” he said.

“At the moment, something like 50% of those who are arriving in Greece are coming to Germany. With a quota of 26%, fewer of this group would come.”

Mr de Maziere said the deal also aims to cut “secondary migration” in which people move from one country to another within Europe.

He said: “If people are distributed in Europe, then they can’t choose what country they go to. They have to stay in the country they were distributed to.”

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