EU nations try to resolve differences over migration

The leaders of Germany, France and several other European Union nations are meeting in Brussels for an informal talks on differences over migration policy.

Facing a domestic political crisis in Germany over the topic, Chancellor Angela Merkel will be seeking to get EU leaders to forge a joint approach to manage the influx of migrants and refugees, a divisive issue which is now back at the heart of the EU too.

There are deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants, how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those EU countries hardest hit like Italy and Greece.

Italy’s populist 5-Star Movement demanded that European countries step up and actually take action to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants on the continent.

The 5-Stars, who are in a ruling coalition with the anti-migrant League party, penned a blog titled “The migrant hypocrisy sinks Europe”.

“It’s time for Europe to find itself again in the principles that everyone preaches, but few sincerely practice,” the party said, adding “the future of Europe as a political community” is at stake.

Looking for common ground among a few key nations, the informal mini-summit now involves about 16 member states, as others demanded to take part.

And to further complicate matters, four eastern EU countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — refused to attend and reject taking in migrants in general.

The Aquarius, carrying African migrants, after its arrival at the eastern port of Valencia (Alberto Saiz/AP)

It means that whatever is agreed upon, it would still face a full test when the full two-day EU summit starts on Thursday.

Two issues have brought the crisis back to haunt the leaders: In Germany, Christian Democrat coalition partners CDU and CSU are haggling over the right approach in what is seen as one of the toughest challenges Ms Merkel has faced in her entire political career.

In Italy, the new populist government caused a fight with Malta and France over who should take responsibility for 630 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the main departure point for people trying to reach Europe.

Amid the mud-slinging, Spain’s new Socialist government agreed to take charge of the migrants last weekend.

On Saturday, Spain also announced it had rescued 569 more migrants at sea, many from boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, a busy shipping lane with treacherous currents.

- Press Association

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