Estonia, the next country to chair European Union meetings, opposes punishing eastern EU states that refuse to host refugees by pulling their funds.

Interior Minister Andres Anvelt told Reuters that such a move divided Europe rather than united it.

"I don't think any punishing through budget or through some financial punishment is good because we understand Europe is a family of very different countries," he said in a telephone interview from Tallinn.

"We have to look very much into the future not to break something. We don't need any more exits, it would make the European Union weaker."

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