Published: Wed, June 27, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Merkel downplays prospect of Brussels breakthrough on migration

Merkel downplays prospect of Brussels breakthrough on migration

"This is something against our European values", he told a news conference.

Failure to agree on how to deal with the challenge of migration threatens the EU's border-free travel area, one of the biggest accomplishments in the bloc's 60-year history.

The U.N.'s refugee agency forecasts that around 80,000 people will arrive to Europe by sea in 2018 if current trends continue - but the EU's political turmoil over the topic has soared. It has fueled tensions among member states, and anti-migrant parties have won votes by fomenting public fears of foreigners.

Even though European Union leaders agree they want to go on curbing arrivals through working with third countries like Tunisia or Niger, such accords are complicated, slow and costly.

"Merkel needs to do this to help Seehofer climb down from a tree", one senior European Union diplomat said.

Despite the apparent disagreement, member states appear to be in consensus over the need of asylum processing centres outside the EU. The worldwide view is that it would not be safe for them to return yet.

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UNHCR has denied trying to stop Syrians going home, saying it supports returns when it is safe.

The opinion poll was published as the European Union prepares to hold an emergency summit on the migrant crisis on Sunday.

It's also unclear how much the effort would cost, but the EU-Turkey deal has so far cost more than 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion).

The CSU will assess at a meeting on July 1 whether any deal Merkel reaches in Brussels is acceptable, party sources said on Friday.

"There will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other, not always wait for all 28 members", she said.

"We understand that there a mini-summit on Sunday but we would like to state clearly that the prime ministers of V4 agreed that they will not go to that".

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New arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe via the Mediterranean have dropped by more than half this year compared with the same period in 2017, according to the United Nations migration agency: 40,944 people as of last Thursday. Last year, Italy made a similar bargain with Libya. The Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti arrived at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo overnight with 519 migrants on board, relief workers said.

Aid groups say conditions for migrants on the shores of lawless Libya are atrocious and accuse Italy of being complicit in the abuse of those migrants.

Italy said the move was necessary because the ships, operated by German NGO Mission Lifeline, were illegally flying the Dutch flag.

The leaders of several more countries joined Italy and France in endorsing the idea of setting up centers in Africa to screen potential asylum-seekers for eligibility before they set out for another continent.

Conte said his 10-point proposal would be a "paradigm shift" in how Europe approaches migration and that he was "decidedly satisfied" with the outcome of Sunday's meeting. Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday hosted a meeting of the "Visegrad 4" former Communist countries, with the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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

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