EU leaders reach migration deal

Brussels, June 29: European leaders have reached a migration deal after holding marathon talks at a summit lasting nearly 10 hours, the bloc’s president Donald Tusk said on Friday. Italy — the entry point for thousands of migrants, mainly from Africa — had threatened to veto the conclusions of the entire agenda if it did not receive help on the issue, the Guardian reported. The country had been asking EU member countries do more to share responsibility for asylum seekers landing on Italian shores.

In a compromise, the EU countries agreed to set up joint asylum processing sites and restrict migrants’ moves with the bloc. “All the measures in the context of these controlled centres, including relocation and resettlement, will be on a voluntary basis,” the joint statement said. The leaders also agreed to tighten their external border more, increase financing for Turkey, Morocco and Northern African states to prevent migration to Europe. However, it was unclear which countries would host the centres or receive refugees. The bloc also dodged an agreement on controversial refugee quotas.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “we still have a lot of work to do to bridge the different views”, but said it was “a good signal” that the EU had agreed a common text. Leaders agreed that EU countries should help migrants rescued in the Mediterranean to alleviate the burden on Italy and Greece. (IANS)