The Latest: Germany floats gas tax idea to pay migrant costs

AP News
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Posted: Jan 16, 2016 8:41 AM
The Latest: Germany floats gas tax idea to pay migrant costs

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest on the continuing wave of migration to Europe by people fleeing war or seeking better lives:

3:30 p.m.

Germany's finance minister is floating the idea of a European tax on gasoline to help finance the continent's efforts to manage the migrant crisis.

The European Union has struggled to find common ground amid the huge influx of people seeking safety and a better life. Germany and Sweden have allowed in large numbers of refugees but many other countries are reluctant to share the burden.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday that "if the funds in national budgets and the European budget aren't enough, then let's agree, for example, to raise a levy on every liter of gasoline at a certain level."

He says "we must secure the Schengen (border-free travel zone) external border now."

Schaeuble is a prominent member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party. But a deputy party leader, Julia Kloeckner, swiftly rejected his proposal — pointing to healthy tax revenues in Germany that produced a government budget surplus last year.

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11:50 a.m.

Five people, most likely migrants, have been found dead off the eastern Greek island of Samos.

The Greek coast guard has recovered the bodies of two men and three women, and are trying to recover a sixth in rough seas, a coast guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press.

No vessel has been recovered yet. The rescue operation continues, said the spokeswoman, who was not authorized to be identified because of the continuing operation. Winds of up to 70 kph (45 mph) were hitting the area.

Samos, which lies very close to the Turkish coast, is one of the eastern Greek islands that have been main points of entry for hundreds of thousands of people, mostly refugees from Syria and Iraq. About 850,000 people entered Greece last year, nearly all by sea.

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11:05 a.m.

Romanian border authorities say they have stopped 60 migrants who are suspected of trying to enter illegally across Romania's southwest border from Serbia.

Police spokeswoman Roxana Costache said Saturday the migrants were men aged 20 to 40 and came from Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Morocco. Border police detected the men early Saturday using heat-sensor equipment. Authorities took the men to a border police station in the town of Jimbolia for questioning.

Last year, asylum-seekers coming to Europe largely bypassed Romania on their way to Western Europe.