The leaders of ten European Union countries including Germany and France will hold crisis talks on migration in Brussels on Sunday to try to find answers ahead of a major summit next week.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called the meeting at the last minute as the issue causes fresh divisions in Europe, three years after the bloc faced its biggest migration crisis since World War II.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition is under threat from the issue and there has also been a row over a boatload of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean who were turned away by Italy’s new right-wing government.
Hungary meanwhile passed a law yesterday criminalising aid groups that help migrants.
“I am convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming #EUCO (European Council),” Juncker said on Twitter yesterdayq.
Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Belgian premier Charles Michel have all confirmed their attendance, officials said.
The leaders of frontline states Italy and Greece will also be involved, as well as Austria and Bulgaria, who are the incoming and outgoing holders of the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, European sources told AFP.
All 28 European Union leaders are due at their full summit next Thursday to discuss plans to overhaul the bloc’s asylum system, which has been under severe pressure since the migration crisis exploded in 2015. Among new ideas, the EU is considering setting up “disembarkation platforms” outside the bloc to process migrants, according to draft summit conclusions seen by AFP.