European Union leaders agreed on Friday to set up joint asylum processing sites and restrict migrants’ moves with the bloc, responding to concerns from Rome and Berlin at a hard-fought summit.
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, June 28, 2018.
A bleary-eyed Merkel, speaking to reporters at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT), tried to put a positive spin on the result, saying it was a good signal that leaders had been able to agree a common text on the controversial migration issue.
But she acknowledged that the bloc still had “a lot of work to do to bridge the different views.”
“Italy is not alone anymore,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
French President Emmanuel Macron said European cooperation had “won the day”.
In a final statement full of convoluted language meant to satisfy the divergent views, the leaders agreed to set up joint asylum processing sites and restrict migrant moves within the bloc, but they made clear that virtually all of their pledges would be carried out on a “voluntary basis” by member states.
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, speaks with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, speaks with European Council President Donald Tusk during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, June 28, 2018. AP)
They also agreed to tighten their external border and increase financing for Turkey, Morocco and other North African states to prevent migration to Europe.
It was unclear whether the deal would prove sufficient to appease Merkel’s coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which has threatened to shut Bavaria’s border to migrants -- a move which could trigger the collapse of her three-month-old government as well as the EU’s Schengen zone of free travel.
Moroccan migrants rest at a makeshift emergency center at Barbate's municipal sports center, in the south of Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP)