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EU refugee plan must not place new burdens on the UK

Thursday, 3rd September 2009

A plan published by the European Commission, which could see the UK forced to take refugees from overburdened countries, has noble aims but it must not tie Britain's hands regarding who it accepts and grants asylum to, Roger Helmer, the Conservative MEP for the East Midlands said today.

The commission has proposed a 'joint EU resettlement programme' which will encourage greater cooperation between national governments regarding the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers.

Mr Helmer said:

"Ultimately, granting asylum should remain the preserve of each national government.

"Cooperation and solidarity across the European Union is important when it comes to the burdens that EU border countries face. However a collective approach such as the one the commission is proposing could undermine our ability to decide who we grant asylum to and who we allow into our country.

"The European Commission says that governments will ultimately decide the number of people they accept, however we need cast-iron guarantees that this will not be the next step towards our asylum policy being decided by Brussels.

"The worry is that Britain could end up being forced to accept large numbers of illegal economic migrants that it does not want and cannot cope with. The EU's approach must be one of cooperation, not compulsion."