In a package of measures, the EU said it would explore the possibility of “disembarkation platforms” where economic migrants would be filtered out from ‘real’ refugees before trying to cross the Med.
After nine hours of marathon talks, leaders also vowed to create processing centres on the Continent to judge asylum claims of thousands of migrants.
The EU will also send more aid to Africa, and beef up its border patrols.
EU Council chief Donald Tusk hailed a “sort of political breakthrough”.
Angela Merkel’s German Coalition partners had threatened to bring her Government down unless she struck a deal to tackle the crisis she triggered by opening Europe’s borders in 2015.
Speaking yesterday the German premier said was “optimistic” and the joint agreement was a “good signal”.
But charities said the EU deal would cost lives. Furious Medicins Sans Frontieries stormed: “The EU states have to come to their senses. They are withdrawing from their responsibility to save human lives.”
And cracks appeared within hours as French President Emmanuel Macron said France wouldn’t host a processing centre.
Austria’s hard line leader Sebastian Kurz also ruled out hosting a site as asylum seekers don’t arrive in his country “unless they come by parachute”.
Italy had threatened to veto the EU Council’s entire agenda unless other member states agreed to do more to tackle a crisis that has overwhelmed the country.
Eastern European nations such as Hungary separately demanded firm actions to stop migrants reaching Europe in the first place.
Critically for Germany, the EU said it would introduce new measures to stop “secondary migration” – where asylum seekers try and settle in a different country to the one they first registered.
Angela Merkel’s Coalition partners had threatened to impose strict controls that would effectively shut Germany’s borders unless she came back with a deal.
More than a million migrants have settled in Germany since Ms Merkel threw open the country’s borders at the height of the Syrian crisis in 2015.
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On board footage shows packed migrant ship being rescued by Italian coast guard
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