EU leaders tackle political flare-up over migrants

EU leaders tackle political flare-up over migrants

EU leaders tackle political flare-up over migrants

Spain's new prime minister Pedro Sanchez attempted to put a positive sheen on the talks, billed as an informal gathering of leaders and one that has highlighted increasingly desperate efforts to appease domestic political rifts in Germany while balancing Italian demands to stop people from arriving on its shores.

Merkel also got Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to attend the mini-summit by telling him pre-written conclusions had been withdrawn, Italian officials said.

"You can not have countries that massively benefit from the solidarity of the European Union and that massively voice their national selfishness when it comes to migrant issues", he added, in a clear hint to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which oppose the EU relocation scheme for asylum seekers.

More than half of the European Union's leaders meet in Brussels Sunday to grapple with a resurgent political crisis over migration that threatens to tear the bloc apart. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia announced a boycott of the meeting.

Italy on Saturday said "arrogant" France risked becoming its "No.1 enemy" on migration issues, a day before European leaders convene in Brussels for a hastily arranged meeting on the divisive topic.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's long-time allies in Bavaria are on track for their worst ever performance in October elections, according to a poll on Monday, suggesting their harder line on immigration is failing to lure voters from the far right.

Instead, she said, "bilateral, trilateral and multilateral" deals must be reached to tackle the issue.

Italian Minister of Labor and Industry Luigi Di Maio speaks at the Italian Business Association Confcommercio meeting in Rome, Italy, June 7, 2018.

Volker Kauder, a senior lawmaker in Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told German television the argument had not been resolved at Tuesday's talks, which went past midnight, at the chancellery, and stressed that the situation was grave.

The leaders agreed on less controversial moves, including a strengthening of the bloc's border protection forces, and on striking agreements with African countries for the repatriation of those not entitled to asylum.

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Merkel is under pressure to find a solution by the summit, because her coalition partner is pushing for a sharper course in migration policy that could ultimately lead to a collapse of her government.

Although no formal agreements were reached today, ahead of a full summit on Friday, the toughened attitudes towards migrants were on stark display.

Earlier this month Spain offered safe haven to the charity ship Aquarius that was blocked from docking in Italy.

Cooperation deals with Turkey and Libya, the main transit countries, have sharply cut, at least for now, the flow of migrants to Europe since a 2015 peak of over one million.

Migrants on a rubber boat being rescued by the Lifeline ship in the Mediterranean.

Europe would beef up its own border force, he said, and strengthen efforts to work with countries like Libya and Balkan states, through which many migrants travel.

At the heart of the problem lie deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants - often Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and increasingly Spain - how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those European Union countries hardest hit.

Merkel is now pushing other European Union states, including Italy, to do more on migration so that fewer people get to Germany and she can convince the CSU not to go ahead with their plan.

Conte said it would replace the current migration and refugee rules - known as the Dublin Regulations - which insist that migrants must apply for asylum in the first European country they land in.

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