EU leaders agree on plan to secure migrant centers

19:06 • 29.06.18



Secure centers for migrants may be set up in EU states to process asylum claims under a deal reached after marathon talks at a summit in Brussels.

The controlled centers would be set up by EU states on a voluntary basis and migrants whose claims were rejected would be "returned".


Refugees could be resettled in EU states which agreed to take them.


The deal follows weeks of diplomatic wrangling over migrant rescue ships, and which country should take them in, BBC News reports.


Coastguard officials said on Friday that around 100 people were thought to have drowned off the Libyan coast, with 14 rescued.


They were found in waters to the east of the capital, Tripoli


There were no details on which countries might set up the secure centres or take in refugees, but French President Emmanuel Macron said they would be in countries where migrants first arrived in the EU.


"We have struck the right balance between responsibility and solidarity," he said.


Numbers illegally entering the EU have dropped 96% since their 2015 peak, the European Council says.


Italy - the entry point for thousands of migrants, mainly from Africa - had threatened to veto the summit's entire agenda if it did not receive help.


"After this European summit, Europe is more responsible and offers more solidarity," said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. "Today Italy is no longer alone."

 

Other leaders struck a more cautious note.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said more needed to be done to resolve disagreements.


And European Council President Donald Tusk said it was "too early to talk about a success".


"We have managed to reach an agreement in the European Council. But this is in fact the easiest part of the task, compared to what awaits us on the ground when we start implementing it," he told a news conference.


A few things stand out as wins for Italy's new prime minister. The summit's conclusions now include a statement about the need for boats that pick up migrants in the Mediterranean to respect international law.


But the big one is approval of the concept of closed, secure processing facilities for migrants arriving in the EU. Some say this will make it easier to send back people whose claims for asylum are rejected. Others are already describing them as prisons.


This paragraph is full of caveats, commas and sub-clauses - all the hallmarks of something drafted in the middle of the night.


Another striking pledge is for an ambitious partnership with Africa. That's the EU trying to balance its tough internal approach with a friendly external one, and offering incentives to North African countries to host facilities where migrants can be assessed for resettlement in Europe.

 





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