European Union migrant crisis: Italy presents overhaul plan at mini-summit

Italy doubles down on anti-migrant stance ahead of EU summit

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he is "definitely satisfied" with the migration summit in Brussels, hailing that European leaders "have the right direction in the current debate".

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks at an emergency European Union leaders summit on immigration, in Brussels, Belgium on June 24, 2018.

As previously reported "FACTS", June 28-29 in Brussels will be a meeting of the European Council, where one of the main issues will be the decision of the migration crisis and the improvement of the European system for granting asylum to refugees. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia announced a boycott of the meeting.

If Seehofer goes ahead with his plan next week to turn migrants back at the border who have already registered in other European Union states, it would be a direct affront to Merkel, and many in the CDU think she would have to fire him.

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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is battling a domestic political crisis with her coalition partners over migration, played down hopes that a full European Union summit starting on Thursday will clinch any comprehensive agreement on how to deal with migration and refugees.

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They had received food and water from Malta, and medical supplies and blankets provided by two other German rescue ships, the Sea-Eye and Sea-Watch, said Mission Lifeline spokesman Axel Steier.

Macron's public spats with Italy's interior minister Salvini have not abated, either.

Volker Kauder, a senior lawmaker in Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told German television the argument had not been resolved at Tuesday's talks, which went past midnight, at the chancellery, and stressed that the situation was grave. She also suggested focusing on stemming the flow of asylum seekers to countries through which they travel to the EU - Libya, for example.

Merkel is under pressure to find a solution by the summit, because her coalition partner is pushing for a sharper course in migration policy that could ultimately lead to a collapse of her government.

Nobody at the summit accepted Merkel's proposal that willing member states form separate agreements where EU-wide consensus isn't possible, instead insisting on a European solution, according to an EU government official familiar with the discussion.

Earlier this month Spain offered safe haven to the charity ship Aquarius that was blocked from docking in Italy. According to Mission Lifeline, who rescued 224 migrants at sea, they are still seeking a port of destination.

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The UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday that 220 people had drowned off the coast of Libya in recent days while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Before the meeting had even begun, divisions were on display, as Italy and Malta traded insults over which nation was responsible for a boat of 234 migrants adrift in worldwide waters.

"We understand there are domestic political difficulties in some countries but that can not lead to pan-European haste", Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an apparent dig at Merkel.

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

The centers would be set up near to where migrants often arrive first in Europe.

New arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe via the Mediterranean have dropped by more than half this year compared with the same period in 2017, according to the United Nations migration agency: 40,944 people as of Wednesday. "Macron is making his country a candidate to become Italy's number one enemy on this", he said.

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