European Union leaders, are set to push ahead with talks on tackling the increasing number of migrants desperately attempting to enter member states as more refugee deaths are reported. Member states are expected to come under pressure to take their "fair share" of refugees.
In less than 24 hours, dozens of decomposing bodies, believed to be refugees, were found in a parked lorry in Austria on Thursday and another migrant boat with several hundred people onboard, is reported to have sunk off Libya.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters at a summit on the West Balkans in Vienna: "We are of course all shaken by the appalling news. This reminds us that we must tackle quickly the issue of immigration and in a European spirit - that means in a spirit of solidarity - and find solutions."
She said the number of refugees in Europe had reached the highest level since the second world war. "This reminds us that we in Europe need to tackle the problem quickly and find solutions in the spirit of solidarity."
Merkel said talks would now move ahead on a French-German proposal to set up refugee processing 'hotspots' in Italy and Greece where a large number of refugees arrive, and a "fair quota system" to resettle refugees throughout the EU states.
"These fair quotas will be demanded. We will see who accepts and refuses," she said, noting that countries such as the UK and Denmark are not obliged to participate in the EU's asylum policy, the Financial Times reported.
The Western Balkans Summit gathers six countries from the region, plus Germany, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and their Austria hosts. The migration issue is expected to dominate the talks as thousands of migrants arrive through Greece, Macedonia, Hungary and Serbia.
Call for new look at migrant issue
EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini said she hoped the deaths would push member states to "take decisions and responsibility," Sky News reported.
He said there were no magic solutions and leaders needed to end "the blame game" and "take responsibility. We cannot continue like this - with a minute of silence every time someone dies."
She urged member states to agree on a compulsory refugee quota plan and a common list of safe countries of origin which would allow authorities to assess asylum applications more rapidly.
The commission, she said, is looking to propose an exception to the Dublin rules which requires EU member states at the bloc's frontiers to take the largest share of asylum seekers.
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn reiterated that Brussels would propose within weeks a fresh look at the situation, with a view to sharing responsibility between countries.
"We will have another go at quotas. I hope that in the light of the most recent developments now there is a readiness among all the 28 (EU member states) to agree on this," he said.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said the onus was on the EU to find a better way to handle the influx of refugees. "So you have a problem but you are asking us, Serbia to come up with the action plan for migrants. You should come up with an action plan first," Reuters reported him as saying.
The number of migrants coming from the Balkan borders reached a record high with Hungarian police saying on 27 August that 3,241 people cross the border from Serbia in a single day.
"People dying in their dozens - whether crammed into a truck or a ship, en route to seek safety or better lives - is a tragic indictment of Europe's failures to provide alternative route," said Gauri van Gulik, Europe deputy director Amnesty International.