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Migrant crisis: EU approves deal to share out 120,000 refugees

European Union interior ministers have reached a deal to share out 120,000 refugees across the continent over the next two years.

The agreement was reached in Brussels on Tuesday despite fierce opposition from some central and eastern states that deepened rifts over Europe’s worst refugee crisis in decades.

It will see migrants moved from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries.

Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against accepting mandatory quotas.

After the vote, Slovakia’s prime minister said he would not accept the new quotas.

Finland abstained from the vote. Poland, which had opposed the proposal, voted for it.

The ministers were under pressure to reach a deal that could be ratified by EU leaders at a crisis summit on Wednesday.

Hungary and its eastern partners oppose the plan because they say Brussels has no right to make them take in thousands of people, and to do so amounts to a violation of their national sovereignty.

The crisis has tested the limits of Europe’s ability to forge consensus on one of the most divisive issues to confront the union since the fall of Communism. It has set right-wing nationalist and populist politicians against Pan-European humanitarians, who have portrayed the crisis in stark moral terms.

The UN says close to 480,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year, and are now reaching European shores at a rate of nearly 6,000 a day.

Under the EU’s constitution, a country that does not agree with a policy on migration imposed upon it could have the right to appeal to the European Council – if it feels “the fundamental principles of its social security or legal system are under threat”.

None of the countries that voted against the plan has yet indicated whether it would appeal.

Criticism is already ringing out from countries that voted against the relocation scheme, but under EU law they are now obliged to take part.