brussels - The EU must change into a fortress Europe, unreachable for migrants who want to illegally cross the Mediterranean by boat. While EU leaders are today in Brussels at their summit they agree, but there is still a long way to see a solution for new asylum rules. This means that Chancellor Merkel has a huge political problem.
Better surveillance of the external borders should ensure that Italy is saddled with less influx. The country has closed its borders for migrant boats and complains about a lack of solidarity from the rest.
The EU wants to set up 'disembarkation platforms' in North Africa, where intercepted migrants are returned to. How this collection should look exactly is still to be fully elaborated.
Although there are many practical objections, the EU wants to do real work in the region after years of dying. African countries, however, are not jumping. A sizeable bag of money will be needed to force governments to cooperate. It is also thought to open up the European market for these countries, so that they can export more easily.
Where there is relatively much agreement on stricter surveillance of the external borders, there is at the same time no beginning of a solution for shifting with asylum seekers who have already reached Europe. The free travel within the Union is therefore under pressure.
Chancellor Merkel received an ultimatum from her sister party CSU to come to a solution. The big question is whether she can bring in enough to prevent a political crisis in her own country.
The Bavarian sister party of Merkel's CDU is a thorn in the eye that migrants registered elsewhere (especially in Italy) are not returned. The asylum rules, regulated in the so-called Dublin Regulation, prescribe that an asylum seeker may be returned to the country of arrival. During the refugee crisis in 2015, however, this system in Germany went overboard.
The CSU threatens to close the border with Austria. If that happens, Austria will close its border with Italy, so that no migrant can continue to travel north. Schengen, free travel is one of the greatest achievements of the EU, is then dead.
The pressure on Merkel was further increased by the CSU on Wednesday. The Chancellor hopes to be able to conclude deals with groups of countries. A comprehensive deal on a reform of the Dublin rules is not possible due to a blockade of a group of Eastern European countries under the leadership of Poland and Hungary. They feel nothing for a mandatory redistribution of recognized refugees across the Union.
The tension about the meeting today and tomorrow in Brussels is great. Not only does Merkel's political life hang on a silken thread, the entire asylum discussion has kept the EU in a stranglehold for almost three years. 'We have been talking about a Dublin reform since 2015,' says a high-level EU source. 'That has still led to nothing. Let us first try to focus on limiting the influx. '
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