Published: Sun, July 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

EU Leaders Reach Agreement On Migrant Crisis

EU Leaders Reach Agreement On Migrant Crisis

The agreement calls for sending migrants rescued at sea to asylum processing centers ("disembarkation platforms") that are outside the European Union, preferably in North African nations, and that would be monitored to meet worldwide standards of care.

But even as they met for a second day in Brussels, the coastguard in Libya - the main jumping off point for most migrants trying to reach Europe - said around 100 people were missing and feared dead in the Mediterranean Sea after their smugglers' boat capsized. France and Spain want EU-run "closed centres" in Italy to process migrants there.

After hours of often-acrimonious debate, European Union leaders meeting in Brussels resolved to create voluntary joint processing sites to restrict refugees' movement within the bloc while asylum claims are under consideration and to strength efforts to return those who don't qualify.

Tensions have risen this month, whereby migrant rescue ships have been refused entry from Italian ports, including a German charity ship called Lifeline, of which has repositioned migration at the top of the European Union agenda.

Salvini's indelicate diplomacy has already managed to alienate the French President Emmanuel Macron, whose more liberal and humanitarian stance on the migrant crisis differs drastically from his own.

European leaders agreed on Friday morning at 4:40 a.m.to push for screening centers in African countries where asylum claims could be evaluated, thus reducing the number of migrants who employ smugglers and attempt the unsafe journey across the Mediterranean Sea - in some cases only to have their asylum applications rejected.

The summit which is expected to end today by noon, was called the "mother of all summits", in particular because of the potential impact on the political future of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is wrestling to preserve her fragile government at home.

Diplomats were left uneasy about the negotiating method of Italy's new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, who pushed the summit to the brink of collapse by threatening to veto the entire summit communique, including unrelated parts on trade.

At a news briefing at the closing of a European Council meeting, Juncker said that President Donald Trump had invited him to visit in late July to discuss the tensions.

Option one is a regional arrangement among member states on disembarkation in one of them, where rescued migrants would acquire a right to apply for asylum.

"It's possible to begin a turnaround in migration today", said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took power previous year in a coalition with a far-right party on an anti-immigration platform.

Merkel, whose coalition hangs in the balance due to a row over immigration, returned with a pledge from other countries to try to stop migrants from moving on towards Germany.

Rescue at sea should not necessarily "mean a ticket to Europe", he said.

"We will do what the people really request", he said.

The bloc also dodged an agreement on controversial refugee quotas.

For years Europe's most powerful leader, Merkel risks seeing her fragile coalition collapse if she can not reach deals with Italy and other countries to stop migrants initially arriving in those countries from moving on to Germany.

Ex-communist easterners, led by Poland and Hungary, are still refusing to accept a share of the new arrivals to alleviate the burden on countries such as Italy and Greece.

As of June 6, there had been an estimated 785 deaths on the route this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, with the majority of the 33,400 migrants and refugees arriving through Greece and Italy.

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