Talking through the night, EU leaders surmounted an Italian blockade and clinched a tentative deal to create new “centers” on European soil for housing and processing asylum seekers, and to take an array of other cooperative steps on migration policy.
An overall agreement to revise the EU’s asylum rules, which has bedevilled and eluded leaders since the height of the migration crisis in 2015. But the accord represented a crucial — if not complete — consensus on the bloc’s most divisive issue and stands to ease some political pressure, particularly on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The deal strikes a balance between concerns of frontier, coastline countries hit hardest by arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers, and the political demands of interior nations who want to stop migrants traveling on to their countries — and the leaders’ conclusions sought to emphasize a sense of unity and resolve.
“This is a challenge not only for a single member state but for Europe as a whole,” the leaders declared. Citing success in reducing the numbers of arrivals in recent years, the leaders added, “The European Council is determined to continue and reinforce this policy to prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015 and to further stem illegal migration on all existing and emerging routes.”
Exhausted leaders, exiting as the sun rose, expressed a sense of triumph, and relief. “After intensive discussion on perhaps the most challenging topic for the European Union, it’s a good message that we agreed on a common text,” Merkel told reporters.
The migration issue had rocketed to the top of the Council summit agenda in recent weeks as Merkel faced an acute political challenge from her coalition partner, Bavaria’s Christian Social Union and its leader, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who threatened to impose tough new border rules to stop migrants from entering Germany.
Merkel won crucial language in the declarations addressing those concerns that will help bolster her position against Seehofer and other critics complaining about so-called secondary movements of migrants, who register in one EU country and then cross into another.
Courtesy: Global Governance Watch