EU leaders discuss refugee crisis at tense Brussels summit


Draft plan drew criticism for proposing Balkan countries should stop allowing refugees to pass into neighbouring countries without first securing consent. European leaders have met for a tense summit in Brussels to try to agree a plan for managing large numbers of refugees making their way through Turkey, Greece and the western Balkans desperate to reach places such as Germany and Scandinavia before winter.

But the draft plan under discussion had already drawn criticism before the meeting started on Sunday for proposing that Balkan and eastern European countries should stop allowing asylum seekers to pass through to other neighbouring countries without first securing agreement from those neighbours.

The Croatian prime minister, Zoran Milanović, said before the summit that such consultation was “impossible”.

The draft plan seen by Reuters included a measure to send 400 border guards to the western Balkans within a week and to put in place more maritime efforts off Greece. It also said the European Union would try to speed up repatriations of Afghans, Iraqis and others if asylum claims were rejected.

The plan, put together by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, seeks to slow the passage of refugees through the safe corridor that has formed through central and eastern Europe toward Austria and Germany by increasing border surveillance, properly registering refugees and stopping bus and train transfers to the next border without the consent of the neighbouring country.

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