Swiss praise EU refugee proposals

Sommaruga says Switzerland is willing to help Keystone

Switzerland has welcomed plans by the European Union to take in 20,000 refugees over the next two years and distribute them across the continent according to a quota system. 

Urs Geiser, and agencies

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who holds the rotating post of Swiss president this year, said the discussions were a first important step to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. 

“Action is needed now, not just words,” she told journalists on Wednesday. “It is important for Switzerland to a find a common solution. We call for international solidarity.” 

She reiterated that the Swiss government agreed in March to take in 3,000 Syrian refugees, setting an example for other countries. 

Sommaruga said Switzerland was willing to contribute to the plan by Brussels, but the details still had to be examined. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but is associated with the single border Schengen and Dublin agreement. 

Sommaruga also expects controversial discussions among the 28 European nations over refugee redistribution. 

In response to the thousands of deaths among migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa , the EU is trying to put in place a fairer system to resettle asylum-seekers at a time when anti-immigration parties are on the rise. 

Britain, one of the largest EU members, has already announced it will opt out of the plan. 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said no country should be left alone to address huge migratory pressure.

 The United Nations says about 1,800 people have died in the Mediterranean this year. More than 50,000 have entered Europe by sea, arriving mainly in Italy.

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