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Central Europeans oppose planned EU refugee quotas

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(WARSAW) - Poland on Friday became the latest European Union member to oppose the bloc's plan for binding quotas on asylum seekers for its 28 member states.

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said Friday that while Warsaw opposed the fixed quota proposed by Brussels, it is open to taking in refugees and migrants on a voluntary basis.

"We're not saying that we won't welcome migrants, we're saying that we want to make a credible offer and so like other European colleagues, I'm in favour voluntary decisions on this issue," Kopacz said in Warsaw.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia Lithuania and Slovakia also oppose the controversial fixed quotas proposed by the EU on Wednesday but all say they are open to taking in refugees on a voluntary basis.

The binding quotas proposed by Brussels would require member states to admit refugees as requested by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The EU move comes amid an unprecedented wave of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East.

As the largest country in the EU's eastern region, Poland would be asked to receive 5.64 percent of all migrants entering the EU, while tiny Estonia would be asked to take in 1.76 percent.

By comparison EU heavyweight Germany would be obliged to take in 18.42 percent of refugees and migrants rescued while trying to cross the Mediterranean arriving in the EU.

Britain, Ireland and Denmark have the ability to opt out of the plan which is set to go before European leaders at a summit at the end of June.

According to the International Migration Organisation (IMO) more than 34,000 asylum seekers crossed the Mediterranean to arrive in Italy this year, while around 1,770 died or disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea during the crossing.

The IMO reported 3,300 such deaths during 2014.

As part of its measures to combat mass migration in the Mediterranean, the EU also wants to be able to intercept and board people-smuggling boats in Libyan waters before they reach European jurisdiction, something that would require a UN resolution.

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