European leaders reached a deal on migration early on Friday morning after nine hours of tense discussion, but the pledges made to strengthen borders were vague and German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded differences remained.
Under the agreement, the EU leaders agreed to share out refugees arriving in the bloc on a voluntary basis and create ‘controlled centers’ inside the Union to process asylum requests, Reuters reported.
They also agreed to share responsibility for migrants rescued at sea, a key demand of Italy’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The Guardian reported that the agreement would bolster the bloc’s external borders and improve solidarity to ease pressure on nations like Greece and Italy.
The EU leaders’ agreement reads - among other things - that the European Council is determined (…) 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 recalls the need for Member States to ensure the effective control of the EU’s external borders with the EU financial and material support. It also underlines the necessity to significantly step up the effective return of irregular migrants”, the agreement reads.
“Concerning the situation internally in the EU, secondary movements of asylum seekers between Member States risk jeopardizing the integrity of the Common European Asylum System and the Schengen acquis. 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”, the leaders agreed.
According to Reuters, they also agreed to tighten their external border and increase financing for Turkey, Morocco and other North African states to prevent migration to Europe.
Merkel told journalists at 0500 hrs on Friday morning that the agreement was a good signal that leaders had been able to agree a common text on the migration issue. She acknowledged, however, that the bloc “still had a lot of work to do to bridge the different views”.