BRUSSELS, May 11 (UPI) -- The European Union is preparing a proposal to distribute migrants to Europe, typically arriving by sea to escape tyranny and hunger, to each nation in the bloc.
The plan, to be released Wednesday and then voted on by national governments, calls for a quota system with nations' population, economy and rate of unemployment being taken into account, European Union (EU) officials said.
It is meant to relieve the burden of countries in southern Europe, notably Italy, Greece and Malta, where survivors of perilous trips across the Mediterranean Sea, typically from North Africa and the Middle East, tend to arrive. Tens of thousands have made the trip, and many others, have perished in boats piloted by smugglers. In March, a vessel sank off the coast of Italy, killing about 900 aboard.
Germany has had 578,000 claims for asylum, or one-third the registered total, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Germany is supportive of the proposed quota system, but it remains a divisive issue in Europe; Britain and Hungary resolutely oppose it, and each EU nation has a core of legislators who point to tight national budgets and anti-immigrant sentiment as a reason not to encourage settlement of migrants into their country.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday that "the idea that somebody allows some refugees in their own country and then distributes them to other member states is mad and unfair," suggesting instead a crackdown on human trafficking.
In April, EU leaders agreed to triple its border protection budget and approved plans to increase attempts to keep smugglers' boats from setting sail to Europe.