A debate on the migration crisis over dinner on Thursday evening will do little to resolve the differences, senior EU officials predict. Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, has avoided putting any new decisions on the agenda in an attempt to avoid fresh arguments.

The leaders of four anti-immigration eastern European countries met in Prague on Monday and demanded alternative EU policies by next month. Their plan amounts to exporting Hungary's zero-immigration razor-wire model to the Balkans, sealing Macedonia's border with northern Greece, and bottling up the vast numbers of refugees in Greece unless they are deported back to Turkey.

Merkel had been due to lead a rival meeting of leaders of 10 countries on Thursday in an attempt to invigorate a pact with Turkey, but that has been called off following the bomb attack in Ankara on Wednesday. Merkel's plan -- trading money and refugee quotas for Ankara's efforts to minimise the numbers crossing the Aegean to Greece -- hinges on EU countries volunteering to take in quotas of refugees directly from Turkey. But even among her allies -- a so-called coalition of the willing -- support for the policy is fading.

... "You can't have 20 [EU] countries refusing to take in refugees," said a European commissioner. But senior officials in Brussels admit that there is now a solid majority of EU states opposing Merkel.

... Greece remains in the line of fire because of its inability or reluctance to secure the maritime border with Turkey. It has been given three months by Brussels to improve its performance or face possible temporary eviction from Schengen.

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