Brussels, June 25 (IANS) The informal immigration summit of 16 European Union (EU) countries has ended here with progress having been made toward reaching an agreement at the European Council meeting next week, officials said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday after the “mini-summit” that all agreed “we can’t leave on their own” the EU member countries most affected by the arrival of illegal immigrants, adding that refugees “can’t choose” which country to ask for asylum, Xinhua news agency reported.
For his part, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez seemed hopeful that the European Union will reach an accord to deal with the immigration problem after the summit, which he called a step in the right direction.
“We have found more points of union than of disagreement,” Sanchez said, adding that no real conclusion was reached but repeated his confidence that a workable solution is possible.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said when leaving the summit that it had produced “a determination to find operational changes for European immigration policy, and it had all turned out “better than expected.”
“I hope it has fulfilled the purpose of understanding each other better when we meet next week,” Muscat told the press, adding that “there are people on the sea right now” and “the situation will escalate if we don’t take decisions in the next few days.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel spoke along the same lines, saying that if countries work in the coming days on “truly operational measures,” it will be possible to achieve “progress” in next Thursday’s European Council.
Michel urged working on protecting the outer borders of the EU to achieve an “effective European solidarity” in immigration matters, while seeking the relevant agreements with countries outside the EU.