In their deal, the leaders made an offer to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces a rebellion from within her own coalition government, with moves to stop migrants registered in Italy and elsewhere in the European Union from moving to Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose "Open Door" refugee policy has arguably contributed to the current migrant influx into Europe, welcomed the outcome of the negotiations, noting, however, that there is a lot more work to be done to overcome EU-wide differences.
Italy's new hardline Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who heads Italy's month-old populist and anti-immigration government, took the rare step of blocking the joint conclusions from the meeting in Brussels, as tensions boiled over.
"It's simply about pushing migrants out of our sight so we don't have to look at the camps in Greece, or in Italy or on our borders in Calais", Asad Rehman, executive director of anti-poverty charity War on Want, told Sky News. "Redistribution and relocation will be voluntary, so no one can force migrants on us", the Czech Republic's Babis wrote on Twitter. Many favour "disembarkation platforms", centres to administer would-be migrants in north Africa itself.
The bloc also dodged an agreement on controversial refugee quotas.
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Member countries could set up migrant processing centers - but only on a voluntary basis - to determine whether they returned home as economic migrants or admitted as refugees in willing states.
Early Thursday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Conte set aside 45 minutes for a chat, only to break it off after 20 minutes when the Italian leader rejected the German leader's overtures, according to diplomats. The EU-supported Libyan Coastguard is intercepting an increasing number of people at sea and returning them to detention centres where they suffer torture, exploitation and rape.
That forced the summit chairman Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to cancel a pre-planned news conference.
Merkel's move came after the European Union's 28 members hammered out a hard-fought deal Friday to tackle migration and avert a crisis that has threatened the very fabric of the bloc.
"They also agreed to tighten their external border and increase financing for Turkey, Morocco and other North African states to prevent migration to Europe".
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That standoff reflects the fraught politics of migration, with Bavarian conservatives facing a strong challenge from the far-right, anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany in state elections in October.
Without the CSU, Mrs Merkel would lose her parliamentary majority. "The alliance with the CDU has absolute priority". But again, it was not clear which African countries might agree to house such platforms, or whether they would be compatible with global law.
"For now, the first-line countries are meeting their responsibilities", said Prime Minister Charles Michel, referring to European Union asylum rules which say that migrants must be dealt with by the first country in which they arrive. But setting up any such center would be a significant change from the current system, under which migrants must be screened in the European country where they first arrive and are registered.
Fewer than 45,000 migrants have made it to the European Union this year, according to United Nations data, a sharp drop from 2015 when many thousands were entering on a daily basis. Europe has stemmed the flow in part by boosting cooperation with Libya, a major jumping-off point for migrants, and by building up that country's coast guard, which patrols the Mediterranean and regularly intercepts the dinghies and rafts bound for Europe.
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