The European Union's leaders have unveiled plans Wednesday to cope with the region's snowballing migrant crisis as fears mount that authorities are in danger of losing control of the problem.
In a "State of the Union" speech Wednesday morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker covered the biggest challenge currently facing the continent -- the influx of thousands of people arriving in Europe as they flee the war-torn Middle East, mainly from Syria, and Africa.
Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Juncker began his address by telling officials that Europe was "not in a good place" and said that the region had to have a humanitarian response and take concerted action to deal with the migrant situation.
"We can build walls, we can build fences but if it were you with your child in your arms with the world you knew torn apart around you,there is no price wouldn't pay, no wall you wouldn't climb and no border you wouldn't cross (to find refuge)…We have to accept these people on European territory," he urged.
Juncker said Europe had adopted improved measures to mitigate the migrant crisis, such as an increased maritime presence to rescue migrants making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats, but that more efforts needed to be made to dismantle human trafficking networks.
Juncker announced an "enhanced proposal" to help Greece, Italy and Hungary – the countries where migrants have been arriving in their thousands, many en route to Germany -- to cope with what it calls "the unprecedented emergency situation."
"I am calling on European member states to take 160,000 refugees, that's the number that Europeans have to take in their arms and I really hope that everyone will be on board - no rhetoric, action is needed for the time being," he said."
The total figure of 160,000 adds 120,000 people to the 40,000 that the Commission proposed in May to relocate from Greece and Italy that are struggling with the numbers of desperate people. The sharing out of migrants would now be done in a "compulsory way," Juncker said.
Many of the national representatives in the parliament displayed placards saying "Solidarity with refugees", although Juncker was heckled by anti-Europe politician Nigel Farage, whose comments were dismissed by the commission president.