EU’s migrant plan is about more than migrants

Merkel delivers a speech to the German Bundestag in Berlin Germany

Clemens Bilan EPA via Shuttersxtock German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech to the German Bundestag in Berlin Germany

Early Friday morning, bleary-eyed European leaders emerged from high-stakes talks in Brussels claiming to have averted a continent-wide migration crisis.

Following a gruelling nine hours of "often stormy" overnight talks in Brussels on Thursday, leaders agreed on a tentative plan of action that will create secure processing centres across Europe, Reuters reports.

For years Europe's most powerful leader, Merkel risks seeing her fragile coalition collapse if she can not reach deals with Italy and other countries to stop migrants initially arriving in those countries from moving on to Germany. Nations in northern Africa were previously mentioned as possible sites.

It also proposes screening migrants for their eligibility in applying for asylum prior to reaching the EU.

"I am not sure we will find an agreement between the USA and the European Union but we'll try", he told a news conference after a summit of EU leaders.

Italy long held up any interim agreements at the summit unless it received concrete commitments the country would get help managing the waves of newcomers that arrive from across the Mediterranean.

The European Council at that point released a statement that did not mention Italy but noted that because "one member reserved their position on the entire conclusions, no conclusions have been agreed at this stage".

He listed the elements of the agreement, including the possibility of setting up migrant centres in European Union countries to decide on asylum requests, but he made it clear Italy had not yet decided on whether to have such a site on its territory.

For several years now, European Union nations have been trying to stem the flow of those making the perilous journey to the continent by sea, part of a desperate attempt to shore up European Union unity on an issue that has helped fuel a political crisis in several member nations.

Yet anti-migrant parties have made significant political gains, most recently in Italy, which along with Greece and Spain is among the preferred landing destinations for people from Africa seeking better lives.

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"The only thing European states appear to have agreed on is to block people at the doorstep of Europe regardless of how vulnerable they are, or what horrors they are escaping", said Karline Kleijer, MSF's emergencies chief.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the migration deal clinched at an EU summit on Friday, describing it as a decisive step in the direction of a common European asylum policy.

"All the measures in the context of these controlled centres, including relocation and resettlement, will be on a voluntary basis, without prejudice to the Dublin reform", say the conclusions, which in another paragraph mention that the reform of the EU asylum system is postponed until the October EU summit.

The deal was also reportedly touted as a breakthrough by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

But French president Emmanuel Macron said he would not host one of the "controlled centres" and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz mocked the prospect of one being built in his country.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from the summit in Brussels, said that "if this was success, it was only in that it staved off the apparent immininent collapse talk of the European Union under the weight of migration".

"We should de-dramatise this relationship", Juncker told reporters.

"Would this approach be compatible with global law?"

Orban went on to say that he believed there to be a threat of migrants from refugee camps being distributed among European countries, and is pleased that "we have managed to thwart the proposal and have our proposal accepted in its place". Crucially, under which country's law would claims be assessed?

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