Speed Reads

European migrant crisis

EU is asking Europe to take in 160,000 refugees, with binding quotas

On Wednesday, in his first State of the European Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked for European governments to accept 160,000 refugees, spreading out the mass migration from Syria and other violence-torn regions through binding quotas. "The bell tolls, the time has come," he said. "We have to look at the huge issues with which the European Union is now confronted," because Europe's future depends on it.

Juncker, who manages the EU's day-to-day affairs, requested that the quota system, and a plan to quickly send home migrants not accepted for asylum, be formally approved at a Sept. 14 meeting of member states' home ministers. A majority of EU nations have to approve the rules, and approval won't be unanimous. Juncker's proposal envisions distributing the 160,000 refugees mostly stuck in Greece, Hungary, and Italy over two years, with individual quotas to be determined later.

The plan will face stiff resistance from countries like Hungary whose governments want to keep the flood of migrants out of Europe. Juncker argued that the young migrants will actually help Europe's economy by bolstering its aging workforce. "Europe today is an island of hope for the people in the Middle East fleeing war and oppression," he said. "This is something to be proud of, not something to fear."