EU leaders lock horns over hosting refugees

EU leaders lock horns over hosting refugees

Two years after the Mediterranean migrant crisis blew a hole in the European Union, a tentative effort by EU leaders to patch up differences over what to do with refugees underlined on Friday (December 15) continuing rifts among the bloc’s leaders.

Speaking after discussing the bloc’s defunct asylum rules with her EU counterparts, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a lot of work remained to be done, adding that the positions had not changed.

Divisions over how to share out relatively small numbers of refugees have poisoned relations in the EU, complicating efforts to present a united front in talks with London on Brexit and to agree an EU budget out to 2028.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that a new voting system might be adopted at the Council in the future if leaders could not find a consensus.

New Polish and Czech leaders stuck to lines shared with Hungary and Slovakia that their ex-communist societies cannot accept significant immigration, especially of Muslims.

The four central European states on Thursday (December 14) offered Italy 35 million euros to help hold back African migrants in Libya, a move that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said could not relieve EU members of a duty to also help out their allies by taking in some of those refugees who do reach Europe.

He added he would not rule out ramming through mandatory relocation quotas by majority vote next year, something Tusk has been trying to avoid to prevent a repeat of the bitter rift a similar vote caused in 2015.