June 29, 2018 / 2:06 PM / 6 months ago

Merkel says Europe moving closer to common asylum system

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference following the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the migration deal clinched at an EU summit on Friday, describing it as a decisive step in the direction of a common European asylum policy.

“What we achieved here together is perhaps more than I had expected,” Merkel told reporters at the end of the summit.

“We are not at the end of the road. I always said that we would never be able to agree a common European asylum system here. But the more we agree among ourselves, the closer we get to a possible European solution. I’m convinced of that.”

She described the deal as a “right step in the right direction” given what she said were widely divergent stances on migration within the EU.

Merkel said she would inform her coalition partners, including her hardline Bavarian allies, about the details of the deal on Friday evening.

She confirmed that she had clinched bilateral agreements with Spain and Greece to handle migrants who make their way from southern Europe north to Germany, but did not have a similar deal with Italy.

Reporting by Noah Barkin, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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