Fewer asylum seekers a must, says Dutch PM; EU must share burden

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It is absolutely crucial to considerably stem the flow of asylum seekers, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in the press conference following the first meeting for the Dutch Presidency of the European Union, NOS reports. "There is no time to lose."

The Prime Minister added that no country can solve this problem on its own and that the 28 EU states need to work together. The asylum seekers must be distributed across the Member State and each country must ensure proper shelter. "Europe will tackle the problems", he said.

Rutte also stated that we need to be modest about the EU presidency. "We as president of the European Union can not solve the problems, but we can help to find a solution."

Frans Timmermans, former Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister and current Vice President of the European Commission, stated that Europe must be part of the solution, not part of the problem. He added the hope that all Member states will stick to the agreement on the redistribution of refugees under the Dutch EU Presidency.

The entire European Commission is visiting the Netherlands today. This morning they met with the Dutch cabinet. Later this afternoon they will meet with the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, and Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, in The Hague.

On Wednesday the European Commission had an emergency meeting with Germany, Sweden and Denmark about the border controls they implemented in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers, NRC reports. Euro commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos fears for the end of the Schengen agreement if one country after another reinstates border controls.The three countries promised to end the controls as soon as possible.

D66 Euro parlilamentarian Sophie in 't Veld thinks that the Netherlands should put the border controls on the agenda as EU President. Otherwise it's just waiting to see who the next country will be to keep migrants out by closing their borders, according to her. "The Netherlands should ask other Member States whether the controls are really necessary." she said to NRC