Saturday

16th Dec 2017

EU leaders to thrash out long-term response to refugee crisis

EU leaders are gathering in Brussels on Wednesday (23 September) for an emergency summit on the refugee crisis after ministers agreed to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers.

The heads of state are set to ratify the European Commission asylum seeker distribution plan and discuss the broader issues of the crisis.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In a letter sent to the leaders over the weekend, EU council president Donald Tusk warned of the "brutal reality" facing Europe, with up to 6,000 people seeking refuge on a daily basis.

He said Europe is no longer able to manage its common external borders.

Tusk's criticism followed weeks of bickering between eastern and western member states and their tit-for-tat responses on border and rail closures after Germany decided to allow in Syrian refugees. Germany later backpedaled and some eastern leaders now blame Berlin for the crisis.

Apart from setting the tone of the summit on Wednesday, the letter outlines some of the main issues to be discussed.

Leaders will debate how better to assist Turkey and countries surrounding war-torn Syria.

The cash-strapped World Food Programme, which has had to cut 40 percent of food vouchers to Syria's neighbouring countries, is likely to get a boost.

"We must also discuss diplomatic efforts in solving the Syria crisis", said Tusk in his letter.

Turkey's ambassador to the EU, Selim Yenel, has said that Ankara wants more in-depth dialogue on the issue with the EU.

"It would be a good idea if we have EU leaders or representatives come to Turkey or other places and talk to the Syrians themselves", he said.

Leaders will also talk about helping frontline member states like Italy and Greece to better cope with the reception and registration of new arrivals, stepping up repatriations, and increasing cooperation with Western Balkan countries.

Most arrivals in Greece end up trying to reach mainland EU through the Western Balkan route. Some 340,000 have arrived by sea to Greece since the beginning of the year until the start of September.

But border closures with Hungary and Croatia means many may be stuck in Serbia with winter approaching.

Serbia on Tuesday activated the EU's civil protection mechanism to help cope with the influx of refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, said member states now need to send Belgrade support teams.

"We are in close contact with the authorities in Belgrade to help coordinate the swift delivery of material support offered by participating states", he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Serbia's border with Croatia is causing tensions among former Yugoslav republics. A queue of trucks on the Belgrade-Zagreb highway was 12 km long on Tuesday after Croatia closed the border, reports Reuters.

"Serbia must reply to the destruction of its economic integrity and national policy", said Serbia's prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic.

Croatian interior minister, Ranko Ostojic, for his part, dismissed the threat as a bluff.

EU says Greece, Germany breaking asylum law

The EU Commission has said it "means business" on enforcing EU asylum law, announcing 40 new cases on non-compliance as EU leaders meet on the migrant crisis.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

EU asylum debate reopens old wounds

EU leaders discussed asylum reforms in an effort to reach a consensus by next June, but divisions remain wide as concept of 'solidarity' becomes ever more elusive.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states