France favours financial sanctions for EU states refusing asylum migrants

Eastern European nations, which played a key part in downing Brussels' plan to distribute the burden of asylum-seekers across all members of the bloc, boycotted the gathering, branding it an attempt by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to ease political pressure she faces at home.

Although no formal agreements were reached Sunday, ahead of a full summit on Thursday, the toughened attitudes toward migrants were on stark display. It said the EU's Schengen passport-free travel zone was at stake.

He made the comments after his first meeting with the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, at the Elysee palace.

With plans to reform Europe's asylum laws bogged down, European Union leaders hope to stop migrants leaving North Africa by paying countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to hold people until their eligibility for asylum can be established.

The French president suggested that additional conditions should be attached to the granting of the EU's structural funds to guarantee the recipients take their share of asylum migrants.

There was no answer Sunday at the Italian coast guard.

Those participating in the meeting had different priorities: Frontier countries, including Italy, seek more assistance from their peers with border protection and a more equitable allocation of migrants between the bloc's member states.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has long chanted "Merkel must go", but now her traditional allies the conservative Bavarian CSU are flirting with the same idea.

Merkel, who is scrambling to prevent a mutiny in her government over migration, admitted there were still "some differences" but also "a great deal of common ground".

After hours of discussion Sunday, Merkel emerged speaking of increased "goodwill" and a good discussion, which would have been impossible given the time constraints of a normal summit.

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European Union deals with Turkey and Libya, the main transit countries, have sharply cut, at least for now, the flow of migrants to Europe since a 2015 peak of over one million. "On the contrary; we want to send away a few".

The Lifeline rescue vessel Sunday remained in limbo west of Malta, with 239 people aboard, including 14 women and four infants, who were rescued near the Libyan coast, said the group.

Mr Sanchez urged the European Union partners to help Spain deal with the arrival of thousands of migrants from Africa. Spain has seen a sharp rise in migrant arrivals. The decline is even starker compared with 2016: It equals just 19 per cent of the same period in 2016.

Late Friday and into Saturday morning, Spanish authorities rescued 569 migrants, thought to be mainly from North Africa, after they crossed the Mediterranean in leaky dinghies, a makeshift wooden raft, and a canoe.

Echoing ally Merkel, he urged a European solution, "whether that is cooperation among 28 or among several countries that decide to move forward together".

"We know that no solution will be reached on Thursday and Friday at the level of the 28 member states. on the overall issue of migration", she said on a visit to Lebanon.

"UNHCR is now preparing a proposal in this respect, together with the International Organization for Migration, which we will share with you shortly", Grandi said in his letter, dated June 18 and seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

"At this moment, the only thing that can be done is laying the groundwork of what a consensus could look like in the future", said Marie de Somer, a migration expert at the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based think-tank.

But he has also had an uncompromising approach to migration, toughening checks at France's Riviera border with Italy and refusing to accept a ship filled with rescued migrants after Italy's new leaders turned it away earlier this month.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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