EU leaders tackle political flare-up over migrants

Danish Maersk Line ship rescues 113 migrants in southern Italy

At emergency migration talks in Brussels, a group of 16 countries led by France and Germany were thrashing out who should take responsibility for migrants and refugees arriving in Europe - now mostly Italy, Greece and Spain - how long they should take care of them and how much their European partners should do to help out.

Three years after a large influx of migrants and asylum-seekers, the vexed issue of migration has become a popular populist issue and threatens to topple the long reign of Europe's most prominent leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The meeting was called last week to clear the air before a scheduled full summit on Thursday and Friday.

One of the key accomplishments of the EU is the Schengen free travel zone and some fear that closing internal borders between EU nations to keep migrants out would undermine that cornerstone of EU cooperation.

He stated this during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, AFP reports.

Merkel, however, has acknowledged that "no solution will be reached" on the overall migration issue at either summit.

European Union leaders headed to Brussels for emergency talks Sunday over migration as Italy's new populist cabinet turned away another rescue ship, vowing no longer to shoulder Europe's migrant burden.

At a meeting in Paris on Saturday, Sanchez and the French President Emmanuel Macron said they were in favour of setting up EU-funded reception centres on European soil to process asylum seekers.

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held out little hope they would be able to gather all 28 nations behind a single immigration plan at the upcoming summit. He mentioned Libya - the main jumping off point for countries bound for Europe - other African countries and the Balkans.

Mrs Le Pen added French President Emmanuel Macron and Mrs Merkel, his top EU ally, had "isolated themselves on the European scene" due to their soft approach on illegal immigration.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would propose a plan representing a "paradigm change" in how Europe manages migration.

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"That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other - not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom", she said.

Far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini also reacted furiously in remarks reported by Italian media.

Macron blamed political posturing more than the actual migration situation for the current uproar in Europe, saying that "we are living through a political crisis more than a migratory crisis today".

"Whoever lands in Italy lands in Europe".

But another rescue ship, the Lifeline of the German NGO Mission Lifeline, was stranded in the Mediterranean off Malta after both Italy and Malta refused to let it dock with its 234 migrants.

At the heart of the problem lie deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants - often Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and increasingly Spain - how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those European Union countries hardest hit.

Aid groups say conditions for migrants and refugees on the shores of Libya are atrocious and accuse Italy of being complicit in the abuse of those migrants.

Migration has recently returned to the fore on European Union agenda as a war of words broke out between France and Italy over a rescue ship loaded with over 600 migrants.

Like everything to do with migrants in Europe lately, even this meeting is proving controversial.

The President of France Emmanuelle Macron said about the need to impose economic sanctions against countries that refuse to accept migrants.

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