European divisions

Merkel Wants Refugee Deal With Egypt

epa05554056 Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern (R) welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) for the Summit 'Migration along the Balkan route' in Vienna, Austria, 24 September 2016. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern invited Heads of Government of Albania, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Croatia, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, the President of the European Council, the European Commissioner for Migration and Interior Minister of Romania to discus a common strategy for the migrants situation along the Balkan route. EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel at a mini-summit in Vienna.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Vienna summit once again highlighted deep divisions in the European Union on how to handle the refugee influx.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Saturday’s summit in Vienna of countries along the Balkan route used by many refugees produced no breakthrough on the relocation of refugees stranded in Greece and Italy.
    • Chancellor Angela Merkel called for E.U. deals with North African countries similar to the one reached with Turkey in March to take back migrants in return for financial help.
    • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the European Union should set up a “giant refugee city” on the Libyan coast and process asylum claims there from refugees arriving from other African countries.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the European Union to agree to a migrant deal with Egypt and other nations in Africa and the Middle East to curb illegal migration to Europe, modeled on the agreement reached with Turkey in March.

“We want to complete agreements with North Africa and with African states as quickly as possible,” Ms. Merkel said on Saturday after a summit of nations along the so-called Balkan route used by more than 1 million migrants last year. “People who can’t remain in Europe from a humanitarian point of view will be returned to their home country.”

The chancellor said a deal with Egypt was the priority right now. “A deal like the one we have with Turkey must now be worked out with Egypt,” she said. “We want to combat illegality and promote legality.”

The deal between the E.U. and Turkey provided Turkey with billions of euros in financial assistance in return for taking back illegal refugees who had made their way across the Aegean Sea to E.U. member Greece. Since then the number of migrants has fallen sharply.

Ms. Merkel, under intense pressure at home due to the influx of refugees, has not abandoned her open-door policy but made a significant switch in tone last week, dropping her “we’ll manage it” mantra, saying her government had made mistakes and expressing regret that Germany had not been better prepared for the numbers of refugees who entered the country last year.

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