Despite extensive talks, differences remain on European Union migrant deal

A child is helped after arriving aboard 'Lifeline', a vessel for the German charity Mission Lifeline in Malta

A child is helped after arriving aboard 'Lifeline', a vessel for the German charity Mission Lifeline in Malta

While details were sketchy, the leaders agreed in principle, at least, on how to shore up their external borders and create screening centers for migrants, to decide more quickly whether or not they are legitimate refugees.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded differences remained on the migrant deal which threatens her political career.

However, the leaders failed to agree on long-stalled plans to overhaul Dublin that include a permanent quota to share migrants arriving in Italy and Greece around all other European Union nations.

Known as the Dublin regulation, the rules say that migrants must be dealt with by the first country in which they arrive. For over a million migrants already in Europe, their ultimate destination was Germany - a country whose citizens are increasingly turning to anti-migrant parties like Alternative For Germany, putting pressure on Merkel.

The political agreement issued today details new migration proposals which include plans for "controlled centres" for asylum seekers and migrants in European Union states, and "regional disembarkation platforms" to disembark those rescued at sea outside Europe. But no country has so far volunteered to host such a center.

United Nations agencies report about 40,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year, a small fraction of the number over the same period in 2016. But again, it was not clear which African countries might agree to house such platforms, or whether they would be compatible with global law.

Option one is a regional arrangement among member states on disembarkation in one of them, where rescued migrants would acquire a right to apply for asylum.

Such a move could see a domino effect of re-introduction of internal borders and the collapse of the Schengen area.

"We want to continue to reduce the number of migrants coming to Germany", she said.

The issue of migration is, perhaps, the body's most challenging issue.

The deal was also reportedly touted as a breakthrough by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. "We are not a first arrival country, unless people jump from parachutes".

EU President Donald Tusk issued a fresh warning on the need for action on migration to stave off rising populism and authoritarianism, saying that "the stakes are high and time is short".

The US president has repeatedly attacked the EU, sharply denouncing what he considers its unfair trade practices, particularly regarding the auto industry, and the European grouping has become a favored target of his, in private and in public.

European Union member states have put together a deal to address the migration crisis that Angela Merkel earlier this week warned "could end up determining Europe's destiny".

It could decide her fate, as well.

Before the dinner clash over migration started, Conte, head of a new government that includes the anti-establishment 5-Star movement and far-right League, refused to endorse a summit text on security and trade until other leaders had bowed to his demands to help Italy manage the Mediterranean arrivals.

She said: "It is just after 5am, we have had very lengthy discussions, but lengthy discussions on the important subject of migration". "Some may think I am too tough in my proposals on migration, but trust me", he said.

Merkel's government has been sent to the brink over the issue, facing a rebellion by her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the conservative CSU who has threatened to unilaterally turn back migrants at the border. Briefing German lawmakers in the Bundestag on Thursday, she had to fend off hecklers from the country's right-wing Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party.

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