Passos Coelho tells EU leaders to “get real” over Portugal’s migrant quota

With plans for mandatory European migrant quotas now relegated to the dustbin, Portugal’s prime minister has said it is time to “get real” over how many people this country could feasibly take in.

Under the initial scheme, proposed by the European Commission last month, Portugal was going to be asked to absorb a total of 2,400 migrants.

At the time, foreign affairs minister Rui Machete said this would require a “very large effort from Portugal”, particularly as the year before Portugal had only accepted 40.

Now Pedro Passos Coelho has added his voice to growing concerns, saying there should be “a better adjustment of criteria” to reflect the national reality.

His reservations came at the end of the Brussels summit that kicked the whole “migrant quota system” into the long grass.

“The idea that Brussels imposes quotas is not going to fly,” a senior EU official explained to the UK’s Guardian newspaper. “It will never gather the support of the member states.”

Hungary for example is described as already building a four-metre high fence along its borders to repel migrants thought to be making their way across the Balkans.

Illegal migration thus “dominated” the two-day summit with Italian PM Mario Renzi making an impassioned plea after the plan for mandatory quotas was rejected.

At the end of discussions, EU leaders agreed to take in 60,000 migrants over the next two years, with 20,000 due to be spread throughout member states very soon – but little was said on how the migrants would be channelled to different countries.

Indeed, instead of discussing measures for a more organised equitable system of taking people in, the leaders focused more on “how to keep people out and deport those who get in”, reported the Guardian.

Against this background of palpable trepidation, TVI reports that the “method of sharing migrants” will now be “discussed and decided in July by Portugal’s Interior Ministers – with Passos Coelho clearly keen to see a reduction in the numbers originally suggested.

As the station explains, Brussels formulated its quota plans by calculating GDP, population, unemployment figures and a given country’s history of taking in refugees.

The quota originally suggested for Portugal represented a 1760% increase, bearing in mind that the year before the country had only accepted 40 requests for asylum out of a universe of 155 (

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