BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union on Wednesday urged member countries to show solidarity with partners bearing the brunt of the migration wave in the Mediterranean and warned that it plans to enforce asylum rules.
"It is not acceptable for people around the EU to say: 'Yes, stop people dying in the Mediterranean,' and at the same time remain silent when the question is raised: 'What should happen to these people?'" European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said.
"The rules are not broken, they are not applied properly and it is time for us to apply the existing rules properly," he told reporters as he unveiled the EU executive arm's new migration agenda.
The agenda is the cornerstone of its response to a refugee influx that has left some 1,700 people dead in the Mediterranean in recent weeks.
The plan foresees the eventual introduction of national quotas that would oblige the 28 member countries to share refugees with frontline states like Italy, Greece and Malta.
Some countries, including Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia, have already rejected the quota plan. It would see maximum refugee levels set for each country based on population, GDP and employment levels.
British interior minister Theresa May said her country would take no part in the quota scheme as it would only encourage more people to make the dangerous sea crossing and risk their lives.
"We cannot do anything which encourages more people to make these perilous journeys -- or which makes it easier for the gangs responsible for their misery. That is why the U.K. will not participate in a mandatory system of resettlement or relocation," May wrote in The Times Newspaper.
In contrast, Italy's interior minister, Angelino Alfano described the migration agenda unveiling as "the day of truth."
"The Dublin 'wall' could fall if we reach approval of obligatory quotas for migrants that each country must take in," he said on state-run RAI radio, referring to the EU's so-called Dublin system of laws that notably dictate that asylum-seekers must be processed in the country where they first land.