European Union Migration Deal: A Step Closer to Completion

Refugees at Vienna West Railway Station during the European migrant crisis 2015 (Photo by C.Stadler/Bwag)

European Union Member States on Wednesday sealed a deal on how to handle irregular immigration at times of exceptionally high arrivals, after having reached an understanding on general principles about the regime’s overhaul.

Envoys of the bloc’s members reached the agreement on Wednesday after overcoming the latest spat between Italy and Germany over charity ships picking people up and crossing – sometimes with tragic consequences – the Mediterranean for Europe.

The 27 countries will now negotiate further with the European Parliament.

Under the agreement, countries that receive many Mediterranean arrivals (such as Italy) could speed up asylum procedures and ask for swift help from EU peers, including financial aid and relocations.

Diplomatic sources told the Reuters news agency that Italy agreed to the deal after removing some references to the NGO operations, while Poland and Hungary voted against, while Austria, the Czechia and Slovakia abstained. The majority vote went through.

The EU has been seeking to reform its asylum system since more than a million people reached its shores in 2015, catching the bloc by surprise and overwhelming countries of first arrival such as Greece and Italy.

The tentative agreement on Wednesday leaves many questions open, including when and how it would be implemented.

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