EU Reaches Deal On Migration, Strengthens External Borders

Hanna Bogorowski | Reporter

The European Union finally reached a deal on migration after nearly nine hours of hard-fought talks on the second day of their Summit on Friday.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the EU on Thursday that he could not accept any of the joint council conclusions until he agreed on a migration plan, which stalled the conference until the next day. (RELATED: Italy Sabotages EU Sabotages Summit, Cancels Migration Meeting)

Italian leadership made it clear in recent weeks that the EU sharing equal responsibility of rescuing migrants at sea and at the border is a red line for them and their cooperation, which the new agreements now comply with.

The conclusions agreed upon by the 28-member states seek to strengthen Europe’s external borders “to prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015 and to further stem illegal migration on all existing and emerging routes,” the European Council conclusion read.

EU leaders also agreed to set up control centers dispersed throughout the 28 nations on a voluntary basis “where rapid and secure processing would allow, with full EU support, to distinguish between irregular migrants, who will be returned, and those in need of international protection,” it says.

The conclusions also address secondary movements of those seeking asylum, meaning when asylum seekers travel country to country seeking resettlement or protection elsewhere, in this case somewhere else within the EU.

The Council agreed that these movements threaten the integrity of the Common European Asylum System, and “member states should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movements and to closely cooperate amongst each other to that end.”

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who’s anti-immigration League party campaigned on banning migrants from Africa and deporting those already in Italy, said he was “satisfied and proud of our government’s results in Brussels,” according to Reuters.

Italy feels it is no longer alone anymore, and can return to being a “protagonist” rather than the source of division, which it has been in recent weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who staunchly criticized Salvini for his refusal to accept migrants ships, also appeared satisfied with the conclusions, saying that European cooperation had won the day. He tweeted on Friday that the EU had “found the right balance between responsibility and solidarity.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also acknowledged that the agreement was a welcomed sign of cooperation, but she is still hesitant about division amongst the states.

“We still have a lot of work to do to bridge the different views,” she told Reuters.

The pressure to come out of the meetings with an agreement on migration was significant for Merkel, who was given a deadline by her Bavarian coalition partner, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, to have a deal by the end of the summit.

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