EU Summit on Refugees Takes Place in Brussels Thursday-Friday

Published June 28th, 2018 - 08:13 GMT
(Shutterstock/File Photo)
(Shutterstock/File Photo)

The leaders of European Union (EU) countries are slated to gather for a major summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to try to iron out differences between the bloc’s 28 members over how to tackle the continent’s refugee crisis.

With the thorny issue of migration high on the agenda, the summit will focus on new measures to curb arrivals via the Mediterranean and alleviate the burden on Italy and Greece — where most refugees first step in and where they are often stuck — as well as wealthy countries like Germany, where most refugees hope to finally settle in.

The European Council, which is the EU’s decision-making body and will be hosting the summit in Brussels, said it was “intensifying efforts to establish an effective, humanitarian and safe European migration policy.”

European Council President Donald Tusk warned of the danger posed by far-right groups in convincing people to support a more hard-line approach toward the refugees as well as other populist stances.

“More and more people are starting to believe that only strong-handed authority, anti-European and anti-liberal in spirit, with a tendency towards overt authoritarianism, is capable of stopping the wave of illegal migration,” Tusk said.

 

 

“If people believe them (the hard-line demagogues), that only they can offer an effective solution to the migration crisis, they will also believe anything else they say,” he added. “Time is short.”

A draft statement of the two-day talks says that the bloc will move to tighten its external borders and assign more money to countries in regions such as Northern Africa to prevent people from setting out for Europe in the first place.

EU leaders are deeply split as countries in Eastern Europe are accused by the bloc’s southern members of refusing to cooperate with existing EU policies aimed at lowering migratory pressures on the former states.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, is facing pressure to persuade her European peers at the two-day summit to agree to share out refugees more evenly within the EU to placate her conservative allies at home.

In an emergency meeting ahead of the summit on Sunday, Germany sought to persuade 16 EU leaders to further curb immigration and restrict the movement of asylum seekers within the bloc. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia had boycotted that meeting.

Merkel indicated after the meeting that the EU was yet far from reaching a comprehensive agreement on how to handle the refugee crisis in the continent.

Although data from the United Nation (U.N.)’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that Europe-bound refugee arrivals are on the decline, the numbers are still significant.

U.N. figures show that 41,000 refugees and asylum seekers have made it to the EU across the sea so far this year. They mostly live in countries like Greece and Italy or wealthy states such as Germany or Sweden.

Italy, as a Mediterranean state of arrival, has taken in 650,000 boat refugees in the last five years, and has already rejected measures that could see it handle more asylum seekers.

In recent weeks, and under a far-right-leaning government, Italy has closed its ports to refugees.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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