Leaders of the EU concluded a timetable for changing the continent's policies on immigration and asylum amid an ongoing string of maritime disasters involving boats smuggling migrants from North Africa.
While the agreement announced Friday in Brussels was cheered by EU officials, activists said there was little to it. "Not one single measure mentioned in the council conclusions will prevent further loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea," Nicolas Beger, director of the European institutions office for Amnesty International, said in a written statement. "Instead, the proposed measures focus yet again on enhanced border surveillance, which will simply lead to people taking riskier routes to reach Europe."
The New York Times said the timetable included a review of the EU's needs in handling the influx of migrants, and a review of the rules sometime in the middle of next year.
Although no changes to current EU regulations on immigration were changed, representatives of southern European nations that have been bearing the brunt of the immigration surge were generally happy that the need for more help from their neighbors had been acknowledged. The Times said Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said the summit had "reached the key result that the issue has become a European issue, not simply an Italian issue, or Maltese, or Greek."