German Chancellor Merkel on Sunday (24 July) admitted that she would reach out to EU member states individually since a European solution to the migration crisis has, in her view, failed. The issue of migration is currently threatening her cabinet. Sixteen EU leaders met for emergency talks in Brussels on Sunday hoping to find an agreement for the full summit of all 28 EU members on 28-29 June.
The summit set to take place later this week will endorse the tightening of the EU’s external borders and giving more money to foreign countries to prevent migrants from trying to reach Europe. Yet, the EU leaders still cannot agree on how to share those migrants and asylum seekers who actually arrive. Germany tops the list of migrants’ favorite destinations and the German government is under pressure to curb their numbers. “There will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other, not always wait for all 28 members,” Chancellor Merkel said. French President Macron backed up the plan, saying the solution ought to be “European” but it could just be a few states together.
Since the number of entries over the Mediterranean spiked in 2015, more than a million refugees and migrants arrived in the EU. EU leaders have been torn by the issue over how to handle them. The dispute over migration has weakened the unity of the EU countries and undermined Europe’s Schengen free-travel zone. According to the United Nations statistics, only about 41,000 people have made it to the EU across the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year. Yet, opinion surveys show that migration is the number one concern among the EU’s 500 million citizens.