Refugee quotas might never happen, minister says ahead of EU meeting

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Even as thousands of refugees from North Africa and beyond continue to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea as they make desperate attempts to reach European Union territory, Latvian Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis signalled Tuesday that the EU is unlikely to reach agreement on what to do with them any time soon.

Speaking to the BNS newswire, Kozlovskis said he was quite sure that no agreement will be reached on refugee quotas at a meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on June 16.

Kozlovskis, who is scheduled to chair the meeting of EU interior ministers, told BNS: "In line with the procedure, the issue is first debated by interior ministers. After that, it is put before heads of government. Information at my disposal suggests that the interior ministers will not reach an agreement and will not put the issue on the premiers' table."

Kozlovskis said refugee quotas might never be introduced.

The European Commission recently published a plan, appealing to the bloc’s member states to accept quotas of migrants to relieve the burden on southern states like Italy and Greece that are the main landing points for the surging numbers of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

A total of 40,000 persons in clear need of international protection should be relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU member states based on a distribution key over the next two years. It has been estimated that Latvia would have to receive 737 asylum seekers from Africa.

Latvia's political parties have been unanimous in their opposition to taking in any refugees except on a "voluntary" basis - with no evidence they intend to volunteer.

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