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EU leaders draw up blueprint for migrant control centers


IANS Brussels
The European Union is to set up migrant control centers that will ostensibly serve to differentiate between refugees, who will have the right to protection from the bloc under international law, and irregular migrants, who will be returned to their country of origin, official said on Friday.
The announcement was part of a list of conclusions released after the inaugural day of a Brussels European Council that ran well into the early hours of Friday morning due to a tardy resolution to the discussions that was indicative of the polarized opinions on immigration within the bloc, Efe reported.
"On EU territory, those who are saved, according to international law, should be taken charge of, on the basis of a shared effort, through the transfer in controlled centers set up in Member States, only on a voluntary basis," read the 10-page statement that also encompassed security and defense.
According to the EU leaders, "rapid and secure processing would allow, with full EU support, to distinguish between irregular migrants, who will be returned, and those in need of international protection, for whom the principle of solidarity would apply."
The conclusions also recommended further collaboration with nations on the African continent to tackle the migration trend at the source.
Many of the migrants attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean use countries like Libya and Morocco as a staging point.
The European Council and Commission should explore ways to "break the business model of smugglers" by removing the incentive for migrants to make the journey across the Mediterranean, the statement said, although it was vague with regards to the specifics in that sense.
One suggestion was to create regional disembarkation centers so that migrants' statuses could be processed outside the EU.
The conclusions were generally welcomed by EU leaders but they will be seen as a compromise to accommodate the nationalist and right-wing governments in the bloc, which have united in their call for migrant policy to be brought down to a national level and threatened to make unilateral decisions.
Indeed, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who heads a coalition that includes a far-right party, said his country planted the idea of disembarkation centers on the discussion table at the summit.

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First Published: Jun 30 2018 | 3:42 AM IST

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