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MIGRATION – No one knows for sure which direction EU leaders will take

European leaders meeting for an emergency summit on Wednesday will face a clear choice: they can either opt for more Europe, agreeing that this is a common European crisis that demands a common response, or they can reject a European solution, in which case each member state will defend its own interests as best it can.

No one knows for sure which direction they will go, Simon Nixon claims in the Wall Street Journal. European Council President Donald Tusk hesitated, the newspaper claims, in calling an emergency summit of European leaders due to concerns that, “with no clear proposals on the table or consensus on how to proceed, there is a high risk that the meeting will only deepen divisions.” During the extraordinary summit on Wednesday, EU leaders will have to avoid a schism that could jeopardize the European project, De Morgen’s Maarten Rabaey claims. Luxembourg, which is holding the rotating six-month EU duty presidency, presented a draft agreement to redistribute 120,000 migrants across the EU, excluding factors to determine mandatory quotas, certain sources such as La Stampa reports. The draft includes the possibility to opt out for 30% of the established quotas, paying a sanction for each refugee a country refuses to take in.

Faced with the continuing reticence of central European countries, the Franco-German couple will have to use all its influence to try and impose refugee quotas, says Les Echos. Paris and Berlin, the French newspaper adds, are working closely together to reach a deal with Turkey and to thus reassure eastern European countries, which believe that quotas alone cannot solve the crisis. Pressure on unsupportive Eastern European countries is intensifying, a Delo opinion piece reads. While German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stresses that the majority vote mechanism could be applied should there be no other way, EC President Juncker threatens to cut cohesion funds, the Slovenian newspaper notes.

In an interview with Le Monde, EP President Schulz said he finds it hard to understand the arguments advanced by Eastern and Central European countries. As to Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri, he stresses, in interviews with Die Welt and El País that closed borders are no solution to the crisis. According to Hungarian and other media, the Hungarian-Serbian border is quiet and, after 5 days of closure, border crossing by Röszke was re-opened. Hungary indeed re-opened the main border control checkpoint on the Serbian border, the closing of which caused thousands of refugees to head to Croatia. EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, reports, has offered Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic technical and logistical support in the processing of refugees coming into the country.

Besides, after talks in Berlin on Sunday with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US will boost the number of refugees it accepts in the coming years to 100,000 annually, from 70,000 now, as part of an effort to help Europe cope with the crisis, the Wall Street Journal and the International New York Times report. Europe’s migrant crisis has given new urgency to finding a political solution to the war in Syria, and Mr Kerry said he would hold talks with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week to explore restarting talks. The US and its European allies have said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down, but have said they are flexible on when that would happen.




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