Germany, Austria and Italy said yesterday they would hold talks next week on how to shut down the Mediterranean route taken by tens of thousands of migrants from Africa to Europe, with Rome calling the situation urgent and “dangerous”.
The initiative came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to set up migrant transit centers along
Germany’s border from which migrants refused asylum could be sent back, defusing a dispute that threatened to bring down her ruling coalition.
But the centers, meant to curb and regulate migration from Africa and the Middle East, will hinge on cooperation from other European Union nations loath to see migrant numbers accumulating on their own soil, spurring a search for cross-border solutions.
The migration crisis peaked with an influx of well over one million people in 2015 and, while annual arrivals have since tumbled, EU members have feuded over how to share the burden and support for eurosceptic, anti-immigrant parties has surged.
Under Germany’s plan for migrant centers along its boundary with Austria, mi- grants seeking entry who had already registered else- where in the EU would be sent back to that country.
This prompted Austrian worries that tighter German controls would raise the number of migrants on its own soil – anathema to the ruling coalition of conservatives and the anti-immigrant far right led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.