How the EU plans to tackle the migrant crisis

BRUSSELSBelgium – European Union plans to tackle the worst migrant crisis since World War II include a push to tighten external border controls and moves to increase aid to refugees outside the bloc.

There are also plans to set up reception centers to separate genuine refugees fleeing war from economic migrants, who will be sent back home.

And there will be a list of "safe countries of origin" to which migrants can be returned because they do not risk persecution or war there, and therefore cannot qualify as refugees.

EU leaders at an emergency summit on Wednesday, September 23 called for tackling "the dramatic situation at our external borders" by strengthening controls at the frontiers.

The bloc aims to ask member states to provide extra staff and equipment to Frontex, the EU border control agency, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Europol, the European police agency.

The 28 leaders also agreed to increase aid to Syria's neighbors, which will include channelling a billion dollars through UN agencies to help migrants.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says one reason refugees headed to Europe is because funding had been cut in camps in the Middle East that house people fleeing Syria.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, has proposed a 1.8 billion euro trust fund for Africa which would be financed by available money in the EU budget as well as voluntary contributions from national governments.

The goal is to have the fund fully established in time for the EU-African Union summit in Malta on November 11-12.

Until now, only France and Spain have pitched in, EU sources said.

The fund is aimed at tackling the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa.

Under the plan, the EU will help frontline member states like Greece and Italy set up "hotspots" – reception centers where new arrivals are registered and fingerprinted in order to determine who is a bona fide refugee and who is a migrant seeking economic opportunity.

Those who warrant refugee status may be relocated to other EU countries to ease the burden on the frontline states, which have been deluged by tens of thousands of new arrivals, while those defined as economic migrants will be sent back to their countries of origin.

European Council President Donald Tusk, who hosted the summit, said the hotspots should be operational by the end of November.

The European Commission has proposed a list of safe countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

The list will "allow for swifter processing of individual asylum applications from candidates originating from countries considered to be safe ... and for faster returns if the individual assessments of the applications confirm no right of asylum," according to the commission. –