New pact on migration and asylum

Germany believes agreement on EU migration pact is possible.

Germany believes agreement on EU migration pact is possible

Brussels (dpa) - The European Union's 27 member states have so far shown little opposition to a proposal to overhaul their shared migration system, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, indicating that agreement could be possible.

"We haven't heard from a single member state that they oppose it lock, stock and barrel from our bilateral conversations leading up to today's meeting," Seehofer, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said before a videoconference with his EU counterparts.

Two weeks ago, the European Commission launched its third attempt to find consensus on what has become one of Europe's most politically explosive issues, as the EU migration system has come under pressure from a major influx of people fleeing war and poverty.

Bottlenecks have formed in often squalid camps at external borders and member states have squabbled over how many migrants to take in from boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Most acknowledge reform is needed, but migration-sceptical states like Austria, Hungary and Poland oppose automatic redistribution of migrants, which front line states in the south – Italy, Greece and Spain – see as essential.

The commission's new plan focuses on deportations and speeding up the asylum application process at the borders.

NGOs and left-leaning politicians have criticized the plan, saying it aims to seal off Europe rather than respecting refugees.

When it comes to migration, "there is no situation where there wouldn't be criticism from some angle or other," Seehofer said, brushing off the accusations.