The EU is seeking UN approval to take military action in the Mediterranean against people smugglers, including the destruction of boats used by gangs operating out of Libya. France and the UK are due to formally propose the use of military action to the UN security council, although the UN’s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has already warned against such a move.

Germany and Sweden are dealing with almost half – 45% – of all asylum claims in the EU, Merkel complained to the summit, and sought to make a small pilot scheme for sharing a few thousand immigrants binding on the 28 EU countries. She failed. The scheme is to be conducted on a voluntary basis.
- Merkel’s policy is supported by those countries on the frontline of the Mediterranean’s disasters – Italy, Greece, and Malta – and by Sweden and Austria: in short, by those countries taking in most refugees in Europe.
- The contrasts in asylum figures are striking. While Germany fielded more than 200,000 claims last year, the neighbouring Czech Republic had around 1,000. While Sweden considered more than 80,000 asylum applications, next-door Finland dealt with 3,600. Italy grappled with more than 64,000 seeking asylum while on the other side of the Adriatic, Croatia had 450 asylum-seekers.
- The most painful issues being fought over by EU leaders concern the relocation and resettlement of refugees. Separately from the hundreds of thousands arriving in the EU dealt with by national authorities, the commission in Brussels asked last week’s summit to bless an experiment in “burden-sharing” by agreeing to accept 5,000 immigrants between them. The 5,000 would be people fleeing war zones who had not made the perilous Mediterranean crossing and whom international refugee agencies had deemed to require protection.

- Some national leaders at the summit wanted the figure raised to 10,000, while Merkel and Juncker pressed for the scheme to be obligatory. In the end, no figure was mentioned and the pilot scheme was left voluntary.