European Union leaders seal deal on migrants after marathon talks

European Union leaders seal deal on migrants after marathon talks

"We can not leave those countries where asylum seekers arrive to deal with (the problem) alone", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, even as she faces inordinate pressure in her country to impose restrictions on the influx of immigrants.

At a summit in Brussels, the European leaders agreed to consider setting up "disembarkation platforms" outside the EU, most likely in North Africa, in a bid to discourage migrants and refugees boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.

In the lead up to the agreement between member states, Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, had blocked conclusions from the talks until all member states had reached an agreement on an approach to migration, where assistance would be provided to Italy.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose League party campaigned to bar migrants fleeing Africa and expel those already in Italy, said he was "satisfied and proud of our government's results in Brussels".

Finally, there are those countries, concentrated in Eastern Europe, who have elected into power staunchly anti-refugee, nationalist parties that are increasingly refusing to cooperate within the EU.

The summit underscored how Europe's 2015 spike in immigration continues to haunt the bloc.

European Council President Donald Tusk gives a joint press conference with the President of the European Commission and Bulgaria's Prime Minister on the final day of the European Council leaders' summit on June 29, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. After the recent incidents of ships with illegal migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, a solution had to be found to prevent similar incidents in the future.

"I am not optimistic that they will be better at handling asylum claims" than current national systems, said Georgina Wright, an European Union policy expert at London-based think tank Chatham House.

"The tide is turning in her favor because the CSU is realizing that their heavy artillery is backfiring", said Josef Joffe, publisher of Die Zeit weekly, who thinks Merkel will see off the attacks and cling to power.

But French President Emmanuel Macron said these new-style centres would be reserved for countries on key migrant routes such as Malta, Italy, Spain or Greece - and not France.

Less movement: The leaders agreed that all member countries needed to take "all necessary" measures to prevent migrant moves to other European Union countries from their first country of arrival.

This would cost Merkel her parliamentary majority.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose government said it had enough of migrants landing from Libya, succeeded in furthering his agenda of asking for greater solidarity from other European Union states after threatening to sink the summit.

But Pascale Joannin, director of the Robert Schuman Foundation, said voluntary European initiatives had succeeded in the past, such as the Schengen passport-free zone and defence cooperation. "The alliance with the CDU has absolute priority".

What had led to migration agreement crisis talks?

Early in the evening, Merkel and Conte set aside 45 minutes for a chat, only to break it off after 20 minutes when the Italian rejected the German leader's overtures, according to diplomats. He said those deemed "economic migrants" will be sent back to where they came from. "With no end in sight", said one exasperated diplomat as the Friday dawn approached.

"Quotas were an issue for four years and now everyone has dropped the topic".

The survey covered 11 countries including Hungary, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.

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