Macron backs sanctions on European Union states that refuse migrants

Macron backs sanctions on European Union states that refuse migrants

Macron backs sanctions on European Union states that refuse migrants

European Union leaders gather in Brussels on Sunday in an attempt to bridge their deep divisions over migration, an issue that has been splitting them for years and now poses a fresh threat to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This is despite a sharp decrease in migrant arrivals since their peak in 2015, when more than one million Syrian asylum-seekers and others entered the bloc.

They will endorse further tightening of their external borders and giving more money to foreign countries to prevent people from setting sail for Europe. Germany is one of the most popular destinations for asylum-seekers after they made it to Europe.

A migrant, part of a group intercepted aboard a make-shift boat at sea south of Spain's Canary Islands, is escorted by Spanish police after arriving in Maspalomas, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, June 23, 2018. The standoff threatens to unseat Merkel should her shaky coalition break apart. She said the hope is to see if "we can reach bi-, tri- or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems".

The informal summit, aimed at "finding European solutions to the migration and asylum issues", is an open-ended roundtable discussion, following which there will be neither conclusions nor press conference.

But the issue has in the meantime won and lost elections for politicians across the bloc from Italy to Hungary, with voters favoring those advocating a tougher stance on migration.

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It means, among other measures, setting up worldwide protection centres in African transit countries to assess asylum applications.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis also said Friday he was ready to start turning away migrants if Berlin and Vienna did so.

The crisis will either be defused or reach an ugly finale in coming days, which Bild and other media have dubbed the "Endgame".

In answer to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration flows towards Europe had reduced compared with a few years ago, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Macron's words showed he was out of touch.

Syrian refugees camped out at Keleti station, Budapest, in 2015.

"A European solution means throwing more German money at things".

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But he has angered the new government of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who accuses him of playing down the scale of the problem in Italy, the main European landing point for African migrants.

"But we will always have legitimate asylum seekers who are entitled to our help". Although the idea remains sketchy and no African countries have agreed to host the centres, the idea is far more consensual among European Union leadersthan how to manage people once they reach Europe.

The rhetoric ahead of the Sunday summit extended north, with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz saying his country would reintroduce controls on its border with Italy if neighboring Germany were to turn back migrants at its border to Austria.

The bloc has been unable to break the deadlock, the bad blood spilling over to other areas of their cooperation, including crucial talks on the bloc's next seven-year budget from 2021.

If Seehofer goes ahead with his plan next week to turn migrants back at the border who have already registered in other European Union states, it would be a direct affront to Merkel, and many in the CDU think she would have to fire him.

All EU leaders agree they must further curb immigration by working with third countries, though that often proves slow.

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Nearly three years after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's fateful welcome to a million migrants, her boldest move has come back to haunt her, with opponents at home and overseas smelling blood.

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