European Union leaders announced early Friday that they had reached a compromise deal on migration, an issue that has created a political crisis and threatens to undermine the bloc.Italy’s new populist government had threatened to block progress on other, uncontroversial issues until the migration text was addressed to its satisfaction.
While details were sketchy, the leaders agreed in principle, at least, on how to shore up their external borders and create screening centers for migrants, to decide more quickly whether or not they are legitimate refugees. The leaders agreed to establish voluntary screening centers on European soil, to ease the burden on countries like Italy, Spain and Greece where migrants first arrive and are registered. They also agreed to study setting up similar centers outside Europe, in North Africa, for example, to screen migrants before they arrive.
One potential hurdle for the deal is the fact that the European Union has no uniform rules or procedures for asylum, making it unclear what rules would be applied in a screening center, whether inside or outside Europe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had even more at stake than the Italians, under pressure from within her own government to solve the problem of migrants coming into Germany after having registered in other countries.
“We still have a lot of work to do to bridge the different views,” Merkel said after the discussions, which a senior European official described as sometimes virulent.
[New York Times]