Political News

The Latest: Austria calls for powerful EU migration chief

Posted July 12

— The Latest on migrants and Europe (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern is calling on the European Union to appoint an official responsible for migration issues with a wide range of competence similar to that of EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Kern says there is need for someone "who assumes total responsibility" within the European Union for migration matters.

He also urged a fair EU-wide distribution of migrants and refugees, saying Wednesday that countries which refuse their quotas must reckon with unspecified consequences as far as future EU financial plans are concerned.

Kern was referring to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, which reject pressure from Brussels to share the EU's refugee load.

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2:35 p.m.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has outlined a plan to deal with the growing numbers of migrants.

The plan calls for drastically reducing the time for an asylum demand to make its way through the process, while an eventual law will help enforce expulsions.

Philippe told reporters Wednesday that France has failed to live up to its humanitarian principles for migrants seeking asylum but also failed to enforce expulsion orders for migrants deemed illegal.

Philippe said of 91,000 illegal migrants detained in France last year, only 31,000 were ordered out and fewer than 25,000 left.

He says the migrant crisis is "high, visible and, everything indicates, will be durable."

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1:20 p.m.

Romanian border police have detained 16 migrants from Iraq, Syria and Iran who were hidden in a truck transporting dishes to Sweden.

Police stopped the truck that was driven by a Turkish citizen early Wednesday at the Romanian-Hungarian border and discovered the migrants in the back.

A police statement said they found nine men and seven women, most of them asylum-seekers in Romania. They told police they wanted to illegally cross the border to reach a country in the visa-free Schengen travel zone. Hungary is a member of that zone but Romania is not.

The truck documents said the metal dishes were to be delivered to a company in Sweden. The driver told police he didn't know about the hidden migrants.

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