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EU leaders grapple with surfeit of crises

June 28, 2016 - EUROPEAN UNION

European Union leaders meet in Brussels at an historic summit - the one with a British EU exit pending. The final summit of the Netherlands EU presidency falls just days after Britain voted to exit the Union. The biggest worries for the meeting include the recent refugee swap deal with Turkey, which is under threat, and dysfunction in the bloc over migration and border security.

Britain's vote on leaving the Union, dubbed Brexit, is seen as a symptom of the wider dissatisfaction across the bloc. Member countries are increasingly unwilling to toe Brussels' line. The Schengen Agreement abolished the EU's internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc. One after another, following the terror attacks in Paris in January and November 2015, member states have re-imposed temporary border controls. A proposed amendment to Schengen widens border checks, but the fresh memory at the summit of the March terror attack in Brussels increases the chance of stronger calls to abolish open internal borders.

The tax issue might represent one bright report at the summit. Four countries agreed in April to close in on tax havens and the meeting might see action on widening the agreement.

In March, Ankara and Brussels reached a deal aimed at stopping the flow of people into Europe. Ankara agreed to take back all refugees and so-called economic migrants who enter Greece illegally, in return for the EU taking the same amount of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey. Al Jazeera reports that Ankara is hinting that the deal is off unless Brussels waives short-term EU visas for Turkish nationals before the end of June. The EU appears to be balking.

Turbulent times as Netherlands takes over EU presidency (DW 1 Jan 2016)

EU: We will not water down criteria for Turkish visas (Aljazeera 19 Apr 2016)

European cross-border security years away, experts warn (Telegraph 23 Mar 2016)

Borders regulation proposal (Europa 15 Dec 2016)

Date written/update: 2016-06-26