EU executive proposes voluntary resettlement for Syrian refugees in Turkey

A Greek fishing boat (R) sails next to a half-sunken catamaran carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians arriving after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey, on the Greek island of Lesbos, October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU executive proposed a new scheme on Tuesday to resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey to Europe, responding to calls led by Germany arguing that it would help Turkey and those now risking dangerous sea crossings to Greece.

But it offers no minimum number of Syrian refugees that member states would take in from 2016 to 2020 from Turkey, where some 2.3 million Syrians are now sheltering. There has been speculation in recent weeks that EU countries ready to take part in the scheme could offer hundreds of thousands of places.

The proposal comes after the EU agreed to revive Ankara's long-stalled membership bid and offer financial assistance in exchange for Turkish help to curb the flow of migrants to Europe.

The European Commission announced a set of measures on Tuesday to help control the bloc's external borders and EU leaders will discuss them further when they meet for a summit in Brussels on Dec.17-18.

Merkel and some other backers of the voluntary resettlement plan are expected to meet on it separately in Brussels on Thursday before the summit.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Larry King)