NEWS

EU chief gives migrant plan 2 months to work

eu-chief-gives-migrant-plan-2-months-to-work

The European Union's top official warned Tuesday the bloc has just two months to get its migration strategy in order amid criticism that its current policies are putting thousands of people in danger and creating more business for smugglers.

"We have no more than two months to get things under control," European Council President Donald Tusk told EU lawmakers, warning that a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on March 17-18 "will be the last moment to see if our strategy works."

The EU spent most of 2015 devising policies to cope with the arrival of more than 1 million people fleeing conflict or poverty but few are having a real impact. A refugee sharing plan launched in September has barely got off the ground and countries are still not sending back people who don't qualify for asylum.

A package of sweeteners earmarked for Turkey – including 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), easier visa access for Turkish citizens and fast-tracking of the country's EU membership process – has borne little fruit.

The failure has raised tensions between neighbors, particularly along the Balkan route used by migrants arriving in Greece to reach their preferred destinations like Germany or Sweden further north.

Tusk warned that if Europe fails to make the strategy work "we will face grave consequences such as the collapse of Schengen," the 26-nation passport-free travel zone. [AP]