Breakthrough on stalled EU migration deal coming this week – official


BRUSSELS, June – European Union countries are expected this week to agree on how to share out the responsibility of hosting refugees and migrants, a top EU official said on Tuesday of what would mark a breakthrough after years of bitter feuds within the bloc.
The EU’s migration chief spoke ahead of talks between home affairs ministers of the bloc’s 27 member states on Thursday. On the table is an overhaul of EU asylum rules which broke down in 2015 as more than a million people – mostly fleeing the war in Syria – reached the bloc across the Mediterranean.
“It’s about having a European migration policy,” EU migration commissioner, Ylva Johansson told reporters. “When we work together, we are so strong… This is not a zero-sum game. It’s not about winners and losers.”
“If we agree on a common approach to managing migration in a humane but restrictive way together, we would all be winners because we will be able to manage migration together in an orderly way.”
Agreeing a joint approach has proven all but impossible for EU countries since 2015 when the sea arrivals caught them by surprise, overwhelming their reception and security capacity.
Ever since, countries of arrival like Spain, Italy, Malta and Greece have demanded more help from EU peers. The rich destination countries like Germany, France and Sweden have said they cannot be the only places where the new arrivals end up.
Bad blood spilled over as eastern EU countries like Poland and Hungary refused to host any refugees and migrants from the mainly-Muslim Middle East and North Africa.
The EU has since stepped up efforts to keep people away, with U.N. data showing fewer than 160,000 people made it across the Mediterranean last year. Nearly 2,500 died or went missing on the dangerous voyage.
But the bloc has so far failed to agree on how to share out the responsibility of caring for those who make it, differences playing out prominently as right-wing and populist parties fuelled the debate with anti-immigration rhetoric.