Papering over cracks, EU leaders claim summit victory on migration

A woman adjusts flags ahead of European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders on Friday claimed success in reaching a hard-fought agreement to control immigration but it faced instant criticism as vague, hard to implement and a potential threat to human rights.
Irregular migration has fallen steeply since 2015, when more than a million people entered the EU, but polls show it is still a top concern of the EU’s 500 million citizens.

(Migration and asylum in the EU: tmsnrt.rs/2txGJM3)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are under heavy pressure at home to ensure fewer people from across the Mediterranean end up on their soil, and east European leaders are bitterly opposed to taking them in.

The summit of all 28 EU leaders almost ended in acrimony as they pulled in opposite directions, met and broke off repeatedly throughout Thursday night, unable to reach agreement until dawn on Friday.

They agreed to tighten further the EU’s external borders and spend more money on projects in Africa intended to deter migration. But the wording of their joint statement was highly convoluted – a result of their diverging priorities.

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