The compromise on migration reached on Friday morning by the 28 leaders of the European Union (EU) after more than eight hours of discussions is “a good agreement”, Prime Minister Charles Michel commented. “This agreement largely reflects the commitments I had made in Parliament on behalf of the Government,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction that enables us to continue working within the Schengen framework.”
The three dimensions which the Belgian Government had stressed – control of external borders, the external aspects of migration – namely cooperation with third countries in Africa – and striking a balance between solidarity and responsibility in asylum matters – have been included in the conclusions validated by the European leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron said, for his part, that the agreement was, first of all, the result of joint work and was a victory for European cooperation against the choice of non-agreement or national decisions, which would have been neither effective nor sustainable.
The 28 agreed on Friday to set up controlled centres on EU territory – the countries that border the Mediterranean – for migrants rescued at sea. These installations will be established in countries that volunteer and will allow States to differentiate quickly between persons eligible for asylum and economic migrants.
Persons liable to benefit from international protection will then be sent on from these centres to other EU countries, which would also volunteer. This responds in part to Italy’s wish for “shared responsibility” between EU countries for all migrants arriving in Europe. Economic migrants are to be sent back.
The idea of the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to set up “disembarkation platforms” for migrants rescued at sea was also among the conclusions approved on Friday.
Work on making these two approaches operational will continue in the coming weeks.
Additionally, discussions on reforming the Dublin regulation, under which the country of first entry into the EU is responsible for each asylum application, will continue under the Austrian presidency of the Union, which begins on the 1st of July.
EU leaders also pledged to disburse 500 million euros for the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
The evolution of the various aspects of the migration issue will again come up for discussion at the European Council meeting in October.
The Brussels Times