Germany asks EU to pay $3.2 bln refugee fund

Refugee children wearing life jackets wait for a dinghy to sail off for the Greek island of Chios from the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme.

Refugee children wearing life jackets wait for a dinghy to sail off for the Greek island of Chios from the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme.

Germany wants every European Union state to contribute to a 3 billion euro ($3.2 billion) aid fund for Syrian refugees in Turkey, saying it is a question of “European solidarity,” while member state Slovakia said that it was challenging to the EU’s plan to distribute 160,000 asylum-seekers across the bloc.

“All member states should contribute to the financing totaling three billion euros,” Finance Ministry State Secretary Jens Spahn told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in comments confirmed by the government.

The sum was pledged to Turkey following a summit on Sunday, but details on the bill for individual EU states have yet to emerge.

Meanwhile, Slovakia’s leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico said that “the Slovak republic has officially filed a lawsuit against the Council of the European Union, to the highest court … in Luxembourg,”

The suit challenges “so-called mandatory quotas” on refugee re-location adopted by the EU in September, he said.

The European Court of Justice adjudicates in disputes over how EU law is interpreted and applied.

“We demand that the court annul this decision, pronounce it invalid and require the Council to pay the costs of legal proceedings,” Fico said Wednesday.

Flying refugees out of Turkey

The European Union executive is drafting a plan to fly limited numbers of refugees from Turkey direct to Europe, EU officials have said following a weekend deal under which Ankara promised to help cut chaotic mass inflows.

So far, 886,662 people seeking safety have reached European shores this year, about four times the total in 2014, and mostly through Turkey, according to U.N. data. That has set EU governments against each other and strained to breaking point their system of passport-free travel across most national borders.

To stem the influx, EU leaders reached an agreement with Turkey on Sunday offering cash, easier visas for Turkish travellers to Europe and renewed talks to join the EU, in exchange for Turkey’s engagement to better patrol its borders and improve the conditions of the refugees it hosts.

The deal also pledged some “burden-sharing” to help Turkey cope with the more than 2.2 million Syrians on its territory. Beyond cash, this is likely to take the form of a plan to resettle some Syrians directly to the EU, officials said.

The EU’s executive Commission will present a proposal for an ad hoc resettlement scheme before a summit of the 28 EU leaders scheduled for Dec. 17-18, where the plan will be discussed.

Refugees may be flown directly from Turkey, and also from Lebanon and Jordan which host millions of refugees too, to EU countries that volunteer to adhere to the plan.

“It will be a coalition of the willing,” an EU official said, while acknowledging that the number of available countries is still unclear, let alone the target figure of refugees.


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