Berlin, Sept 18: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today said that EU members reluctant to accept migrant quotas may have to be outvoted and overruled in the 28-member bloc.
"It just cannot be that Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy carry the burden alone," he said about Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II. "That's not how European solidarity works. "And if there is no other way, then we should seriously consider to use the instrument of a qualified majority," he told the Passauer Neue Presse daily.
The 28 EU members usually aim for compromise and consensus on policies, but under the tool of a qualified majority vote, binding decisions can be taken if 55 per cent of nations representing 65 per cent of the total population agree.
Several eastern European countries, notably Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have strongly rejected the idea of accepting a share of migrants according to national quotas that reflect populations and economic strength.
A meeting of EU interior ministers last Monday failed to reach a deal on quotas to distribute 120,000 migrants. An extraordinary summit of the European Union has been scheduled for next Wednesday in Brussels, following a request by Berlin and Vienna.
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has become the top EU destination for people fleeing wars and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. It expects to receive between 800,000 and one million asylum seekers this year, generating extra costs close to 10 billion euros.
Amid a surge of newcomers in recent weeks, Germany, Austria and other members have reimposed identity checks on parts of their borders.