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EU Leaders Reach 'Breakthrough' Agreement On Dealing With Migrants

Merkel: Migration Could Determine EU's Fate
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EU leaders have reached what they describe as a "breakthrough" deal on migration that envisions EU countries voluntarily establishing "control centers" to process migrants rescued at sea while also seeking to establish such centers outside Europe.

The compromise deal, reached early on June 29, came after more than 12 hours of tough negotiations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described migration as the bloc's most difficult and important issue.

The deal is a win for Italy, led by its new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, which has been pushing for more burden-sharing from EU countries. It even threatened to veto the summit's concluding statement unless the bloc's 28 leaders reached a common understanding on migration.

"Italy is no longer alone," Conte said after the deal was announced.

Italy for years has been the main point of entry for African migrants willing to risk the dangerous Mediterranean voyage and seek a new life in the EU. But Conte's government recently stopped taking in boats carrying migrants to Italy's ports.

Under the deal, EU member states would set up "control centers" on their own territory to process migrants rescued at sea.

Migrants deemed eligible for international protection would be distributed among member states that voluntarily offer to take them in.

The EU would also seek to establish migrant processing centers outside Europe - most likely in North Africa and the Balkans -- through agreements with those countries.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa