European leaders meet to tackle illegal migration

European leaders gathered in Vienna Saturday to discuss how to better fortify the European Union’s outer borders against illegal migration and trafficking.

The migration summit will also focus on how to control the flow of migrants along the so-called Balkan route, the path into Europe that hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn and poverty-stricken countries have used to reach central and northern Europe.

Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern convened the meeting of his counterparts from Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria to consider measures for providing a lasting solution to the migrant crisis.

This year, Austria and other countries largely shut down the Balkan route, a move that left thousands of migrants and refugees stuck in Greece and infuriated Athens.

Ahead of the meeting, European Union Council President Donald Tusk told reporters that “since the first day of the migration crisis” he had no doubt that “the main key to its resolution is restoring effective control of the EU’s external borders.”

Overall migrant arrival numbers in the EU countries have decreased, partly due to a deal between the Brussels and Turkey under which Ankara has kept migrants from embarking for Europe from its shores in return for financial assistance.

EU leaders pledged at a summit a week ago to strengthen protection of Bulgaria’s border with Turkey and intensify cooperation between the security services of the two countries.


(Photo: IOM/Francesco Malavolta)