Merkel plays down chances of breakthrough in EU migration talks

GETTYGiuseppe Conte threatened not to attend the mini EU summit this weekend

French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to offer Merkel his cautious backing, saying while the solution to migration should be "European", it could be built through the cooperation of all EU members or just several deciding to go together. He said he still believed a solution could be found on the migration issue.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are now more than 980,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has a population of about 6 million people.

Volker Kauder, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) who leads the conservative bloc in parliament, expressed regret that some political leaders were questioning the future of the alliance, but said it was too soon to speak of its demise.

The prime ministers of Denmark, Belgium and Luxembourg also backed the idea of outsourcing the effort to tame migration, although they emphasized the need to respect global law.

All EU leaders agree they must further curb immigration by working with third countries, though that often proves slow.

Conte told European Council President Donald Tusk in Rome on Wednesday that it was unthinkable for Italy to also have to take migrants that have made secondary movements, given that it already is widely recognised as being the country most exposed to primary migrant flows.

At the heart of the problem lie deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants - often Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and increasingly Spain - how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those European Union countries hardest hit.

"That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other - not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom", she said.

His appeal came as migration tensions surged on the Mediterranean itself.

Spanish authorities say they have rescued 569 migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Spain by boat.

But he has also had an uncompromising approach to migration, toughening checks at France's Riviera border with Italy and refusing to accept a ship filled with rescued migrants after Italy's new leaders turned it away earlier this month.

Tensions between Italy and Malta also flared, with both European Union nations refusing to let a German rescue ship with 234 migrants aboard dock at their ports.

With Germany being the main contributor to the bloc's joint coffers, the southern gateway countries were promised more money to handle migration, while the reluctant easterners face cuts in development aid.

Amid the mud-slinging, Spain's new Socialist government agreed to take charge of the migrants.

As with everything linked to migration in Europe, even the meeting in Brussels has not pleased everybody.

As tensions rise between Rome and Paris as well as Rome and Berlin, the top-level talks are created to help clear the heavy air for a previously scheduled full summit of all European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday. Four countries in Eastern Europe - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - have refused to attend and reject taking in migrants in general.

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