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Tusk calls for focus on EU's external border to stem migration

Tusk calls for focus on EU's external border to stem migration

While Italy pushed for its European counterparts' greater support, other leaders were not keen to revise European rules that require asylum seekers to be processed in the country where they first arrive.

Compared with the most recent years, the European Union does not now face a large external migration problem. "But we still have a lot of work to do to overcome the divisions", said Chancellor Merkel.

The EU deal is already a fragile one for right after declaring it a win, Austria, France, Germany and Italy refused to establish any controlled centres on its soil.

Migrant experts and humanitarian aid groups fear the European Union agreement is a political smoke screen aimed at addressing the concerns of resurgent anti-migrant parties in Europe and which will only leave vulnerable people once again at risk. In Europe's case, the proposal also broadens an existing strategy of using African countries as partners that are willing to crack down on smugglers and intercept migrant vessels. But no country has so far volunteered to host such a center. The bottom line is that numbers have dropped by about 96 percent, compared with 2015 when well over 1 million people entered Europe, majority fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that some 80,000 people will enter Europe by sea this year, based on current trends. But again, it was not clear which African countries might agree to house such platforms, or whether they would be compatible with worldwide law. Merkel reached same agreement with Spain as well with Greece. The arrivals include asylum seekers, but also economic migrants.

The issue of migration is, perhaps, the body's most challenging issue.

"We want to continue to reduce the number of migrants coming to Germany", she said.

Details about the new "platforms" are sketchy, but the plan involves erecting a virtual wall in northern Africa by placing people who try to leave for Europe in centers in countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia. Italy has started to turn away ships that rescue migrants from the sea. What it undoubtedly faces, however, is a large internal political problem about such migration.

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Interior Minister Mr Seehofer has yet to respond in public to the Brussels summit.

Following nine hours of often stormy talks, EU leaders agreed on a range of measures, including the new concept of "regional disembarkation platforms" outside the European Union, where asylum requests would be assessed before claimants get to Europe.

Italy's stance has revived political tensions in the European Union, despite the fact that arrivals have dipped by 96 percent since the peak of Europe's migration crisis in 2015, and sparked warnings that authoritarian movements will take advantage of any failure to tackle migration. "If we don't agree on them then you will see some really tough proposals from some really tough guys."Ms Merkel agreed, rejecting the idea of unilaterally turning back migrants at the border". Her conservative coalition is under pressure from the far-right Alternative for Germany.

The announced deals will be discussed Sunday at key meetings of Merkel's own CDU party and also of the CSU that are likely to determine the fate of her government.

Bertalan Havasi, spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, stressed that Budapest's position "remains unchanged since 2015".

"There will be no forced redistribution of refugees", Morawiecki said on Twitter.

"So that's what the people want", Mr Orban said.


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