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European Union Leaders Still Poles Apart Over Refugees

European Union Leaders Still Poles Apart Over RefugeesEuropean Union Leaders Still Poles Apart Over Refugees

Two years after the Mediterranean migrant crisis shook the European Union, a tentative effort by the bloc to patch up differences over refugee policy has stumbled, revealing enduring rifts among the bloc’s leaders over the contentious question.

A candid discussion over a Brussels summit dinner that began on Thursday night and spilled into the wee hours of Friday was intended to clear the air and see if there was a way to reconcile opposing views on how to reform defunct asylum rules, Reuters reported.

But leaders emerging from nearly three hours of talks made clear that while there was little of the angry passion of 2015, when a million people flooded into Greece and headed for Germany, the “frank and sober” exchanges failed to blunt sharp rifts pitting some eastern states against many of the rest.

“We have a lot of work to do,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. “The positions have not changed.”

Divisions over how to share out relatively small numbers of refugees have poisoned relations in the EU, complicating efforts to present a united front in talks with London on Brexit and to agree an EU budget out to 2028.

New Polish and Czech leaders stuck to lines shared with Hungary and Slovakia that their ex-communist societies cannot accept significant immigration, especially of Muslims.

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