Wrap-up: Special EU summit on the Mediterranean crisis

Migrant solidarity marchers. Brussels, 23 April. [Joel Schalit/Flickr]

European heads of state and government met on Thursday (23 April) in an extraordinary summit to discuss the Mediterranean migrant crisis following mass drownings of migrants off the coast of Libya.

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who chaired the meeting, said the EU’s overriding priority was “to prevent more people from dying at sea”.

Following the meeting, EU leaders agreed on the next steps:

  • Strengthen EU’s presence at sea
  • Fight traffickers in accordance with international law
  • Prevent illegal migration flows
  • Reinforce internal solidarity and responsibility

For live coverage of the EU special summit on migration, see EURACTIV’s Storify below.

Since 1999, the EU has worked to create a Common European Asylum System and improve the current legislative framework.

New EU rules have now been agreed, setting out common high standards and stronger cooperation, to ensure that asylum seekers are treated equally in an open and fair system – wherever they apply.

But member states rejected the Commission's proposal that asylum seekers from the countries mostly affected from the arrival of migrants should be relocated in other EU countries.

The number of migrants entering the European Union illegally in 2014 almost tripled to 276,000, according to EU border control agency Frontex, nearly 220,000 of them arriving via the often dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

The chaotic situation in Libya has sparked a rise in migrant boats setting out for Europe from its unpoliced ports carrying refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

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