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Germany’s Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, is pushing for progress on European Union (EU) asylum reforms as the bloc’s leaders meet to discuss a deal on migration.
At a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Sunday, Scholz said that the EU needs to act swiftly on the deal. He added that the EU can no longer afford to wait for all the states to agree on the reforms.
Scholz said the EU needs to come to a “sensible consensus” on asylum reforms, but he also noted that states have different interests and it is difficult to reach an agreement.
The EU has been struggling for years on how to manage the influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East. In June, the EU Commission agreed on an overhaul of the bloc’s asylum system, but the plan has faced multiple roadblocks from member states.
The plan would see countries who receive a high number of migrants (such as Germany, Italy, and Greece) relieved of some of their burden, while other countries would receive financial help to cover any losses they suffer as a result of taking in asylees.
Scholz said the solution must be based on the principle of “solidarity,” and that the EU needs to come up with a way for the influx of migrants to be shared fairly and equitably among all member states.
The Finance Minister also commented on the UK’s pending departure from the EU, saying that he sees Brexit as “an opportunity to fundamentally reform the EU.”
He said he was optimistic and confident that the problem of asylum reforms could be solved, and that the EU still has the chance to reform itself after Brexit.
Scholz also said that he believes the EU needs to focus on making itself “more efficient and citizen-oriented,” and that “solving the problems of migration could lead to a new chapter in the EU’s history.”
The EU leaders will meet in Brussels this week to discuss the deal on migration, however, some experts are skeptical that a lasting solution can be reached.