Brussels is expected to propose hundreds of millions of euros in assistance to deal with a looming crisis as thousands of refugees are stuck in wintry misery at the Greece-Macedonia border after a series of Balkan states shut their frontiers.
Greece has asked for around 480 million euros ($520 million) to help shelter 100,000 refugees as the European Union faces its biggest wave of refugees since World War II in a crisis that has divided the bloc and boosted populist sentiment.
“I believe that we will be able to act in a few days,” Germany’s European Commissioner Gunther Oettinger told ZDF TV, adding that he expected Greece to receive hundreds of millions of dollars.
News reports said the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, was expected to announce plans for a total of 700 million euros — 300 million for 2016 and a further 200 million in 2017 and 2018 — and that it would be available to all states, not just Greece.
EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said on Twitter that he would propose “an instrument for emergency assistance inside the EU” and call on all member states to contribute further.
The plan for an internal aid mechanism marks a departure for the 28-nation EU, which normally only gives aid to countries outside the bloc, notably in the Middle East and Africa.