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EU interior ministers meet as nations tussle over migrant response

AFP  |  Innsbruck (Austria) 

Interior ministers from 28 European nations will meet today as they face intensifying pressure to introduce new policies to stem migrant arrivals, in their first meeting after took the EU helm with promises of a tough response to the issue.

The meeting in Innsbruck will focus in particular on coming up with a common migration plan, with expected to push to change the EU's migration policy so it is no longer possible to make asylum requests on European soil.

Although the number of migrants fleeing war and poverty has fallen sharply since a 2015 peak the issue is a thorny one in and a key topic for the six-month presidency of Austria, where a conservative-far right coalition took power last December.

Austria's hardline interior Herbert Kickl, of the far-right FPOE party, told journalists earlier this week that he would propose asylum requests be made in refugee camps outside to "a sort of mobile commission".

Only exiles from countries that directly border the would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory.

Kickl is likely to join forces with his Italian counterpart Matteo Salvini, also deputy prime and leader of the far-right

Salvini has banned NGO rescue boats that pick up migrants in the from docking in Italy, accusing them of aiding human traffickers to bring migrants to

In Innsbruck, which has been described as an informal meeting, he is expected to ask nations not to send ships on international missions to Italian ports. The issue of migration and asylum rights in Europe has raised tensions among the EU's 28 member states.

currently holds the rotating EU presidency, which gives it the opportunity to meetings and set agendas.

Germany's interior said Wednesday he hopes to reach an agreement with by the end of the month on the vexed topic of returning migrants there from

A migrant deal with is central to the compromise German reached with Seehofer to end a row over immigration within their coalition that has threatened to bring down the government.

Salvini said he and Seehofer shared a "common objective: fewer landings, fewer deaths, fewer migrants in as well as in Germany".

But the Italian minister said he expected to see more action to toughen the EU's external frontiers before agreeing to any deal to take back migrants.

Kickl told the on Monday that the Innsbruck meeting would be the first time "we will talk more concretely about the issue of disembarkation platforms" outside the EU for migrants rescued in international waters.

But European nations are divided on the feasibility and legality of these "platforms", which several countries like and have already said they would not host.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, July 12 2018. 12:35 IST