BRUSSELS: European Union leaders could promise billions of euros in new funding for Syrian refugees at an emergency summit on Wednesday where they will also try to patch up bitter divisions over the migration crisis.
Meeting for dinner a day after interior ministers overrode furious objections from four eastern states in a vote that will distribute asylum-seekers around the bloc according to mandatory national quotas, government leaders will try to focus on ways to curb the inflow of migrants that has hit records this summer.
But feelings are running high as chaotic crowds and varied responses from national capitals have seen borders close inside Europe’s cherished passport-free Schengen zone and diplomats expect “theatrics” from some of the 28 leaders as each seeks to shore up domestic support in the face of fears of immigration.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel may face criticism of her move last month to take in more Syrians, an action some of her eastern neighbors say fueled the inflow. Re-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will hear calls from the north to use new EU support to tighten controls on the bloc’s Mediterranean frontiers.
Establishing a principle of “relocating” some asylum-seekers has been a key demand of Rome in particular, which wants to end a rule that states they should remain in the first EU state they enter. Northern countries accuse Italy and Greece of undermining the Schengen area by simply letting migrants move on unchecked.