Europe

Migrant crisis: European Parliament calls for bolder action

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Media captionThe European Parliament called for countries to share the burden of dealing with migrants

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for the EU to take bolder action to deal with the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The resolution, which is non-binding and has no legal force, says all EU countries should be required to accept a certain number of asylum seekers.

It comes after EU leaders held an emergency meeting last week.

More than 750 people died as they tried to make the perilous crossing from Libya on 19 April.

The resolution adopted on Wednesday asks the European Commission to establish "a binding quota for the distribution of asylum seekers amongst all Member States".

The issue is controversial. At a EU summit last week, no agreement was reached between EU countries on a common asylum system or quotas for northern European countries.

The UK has said it would provide naval support, but would not accept more asylum seekers.

'Fairer system'

A total of 449 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 130 voted against and there were 93 abstentions.

It was supported by the two biggest groups in the parliament, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

German MEP Martin Weber, who chairs the EPP, said southern countries such as Italy and Greece were bearing too much of the burden.

"Only a handful of states deal with migrants," he said. "We need a fairer system."

Read more on migrant tragedy:

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Image caption Over 35,000 have tried to cross and some 1,750 have died while attempting the journey.

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Italy's Gianni Pittella from S&D said: "We are united in our approach. We want binding mechanisms for burden sharing for asylum seekers, because it's unfair for a few states to take 80% of asylum seekers."

But Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) who also heads the Eurosceptic group Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), said opening Europe's doors to large numbers of people fleeing war-torn countries posed a "direct threat to our civilisation".

"We simply can't accept countless millions. Already in countries like mine, 77% of the population say we cannot take immigration at current levels."

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