EU leaders will support Italy on migration to close Central Mediterranean route, says Tusk

EU leaders decided to support Italy manage refugee flows at the Central Mediterranean route, European Council President Donald Tusk told journalists on Thursday, at the end of the first day of an EU summit in Brussels.

“Leaders agreed to offer Prime Minister Gentiloni stronger support for Italy’s work with the Libyan authorities. We have a real chance of closing the Central Mediterranean route. That is why we decided that member states will provide sufficient finances for the North Africa window of the Trust Fund for Africa, while the Commission ensures that this money is channeled to stem illegal migration. We should see concrete results within the next few weeks,” he said.

Tusk said EU leaders also decided to come back to the issue of Dublin reform in December, with a view to reaching a consensus in the first half of 2018.

Continuing on the Leaders’ Agenda, he said the objective of this plan is to move forward in Europe on key issues, like security or migration, while keeping the bloc’s unity.

“And I would like to state very clearly that as long as I am here, I will be the guardian of European unity. It is not only my formal role as the President of the European Council, but – above all – it is my true belief. Because unity is, in fact, our most important strength,” he added. Asked about the crisis in Catalonia, he said the situation is “concerning” but noted that there is no space for EU intervention” in the issue.