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France, Germany call EU summit on migrants

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France, Germany call EU summit on migrants
German Interior Thomas de Maizière (r) and his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: DPA
08:10 CEST+02:00
Europe's interior and foreign ministers will meet in mid-October to discuss how to respond to the huge influx of migrants and refugees arriving at EU borders, the French and German interior ministers announced after a Berlin meeting on Thursday.

The meeting, to be followed by further talks in Berlin, will pave the way for broader discussions at an EU summit in Malta in November which will also be attended by African leaders, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after talks with his German counterpart Thomas de Maizière in the German capital.

De Maizière said it was "unacceptable that European institutions continue to work at their current slow pace" in finding a joint solution to the crisis, adding that "too little" was being done to implement decisions that have already been taken.

EU border agency Frontex reported on Tuesday that a record 107,000 migrants were massed at the bloc's borders last month, as the continent faces its biggest migration crisis since the Second World War.

De Maizière said he hoped new centres set up to determine whether new arrivals are refugees fleeing war, or economic migrants simply looking for work, would be operational by the end of the year in Greece and Italy, the countries bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Cazeneuve, meanwhile, called for a "harmonisation" of asylum laws in Europe and the creation of "a list of safe countries of origin at the European level" to make it easier to send home asylum-seekers whose countries are considered at peace.

He also urged a "deepening of cooperation among police and intelligence services" along the lines of a deal agreed Thursday between France and Britain to combat people smuggling at Calais.

European leaders are expected to use the Malta summit to encourage their African counterparts to do more to stem the flow of migrants heading across the Mediterranean in rickety boats in search of a better life in Europe.

They will also seek assurances that African countries will actually implement agreements signed with European countries to take back migrants who have been denied leave to remain in the EU.

De Maizière expressed hope that the European Commission will be able to move forward with agreements allowing rejected asylum-seekers to return to their home countries "without fear of persecution".

Cazeneuve added that this will require "discussions with the countries of origin".

The two foreign ministers also discussed Ukraine, Cazeneuve said, adding that they prepared new initiatives on the conflict that will be presented to European institutions.

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine held telephone discussions Thursday, with all sides calling for the full implementation of a ceasefire deal, according to the French presidency.

SEE ALSO: Refugee numbers to reach 800,000 in 2015

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