(Reuters) – With numbers of asylum seekers in Europe reaching a two-decade high, Sweden’s immigration minister said many member states were sitting on the sidelines and warned the EU needed to share out the burden of immigrants, especially from Syria.
Among 44 industrialised nations, Sweden ranked fourth in the number of asylum seekers and second relative to its population, according to U.N. figures.
Sweden stands out in the European Union for offering permanent residence to Syrian asylum seekers. It estimates the cost of receiving asylum seekers will jump to 7.0 billion Swedish crowns ($1.09 billion) this year, up from 5.1 billion crowns in 2013.
There are concerns the policy is straining Sweden’s generous welfare system as spending on housing and education rises.
A populist anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, has risen in polls to become the third most popular party ahead of a national election in September.
“We will be facing a situation where more and more member states like France, like Germany, like Sweden, all the nine that do the 90 percent of the job annually will sooner or later say, hey, we are not going to buy this,” Swedish Immigration Minister Tobias Billstrom told Reuters…