Agence France-Presse

European Union leaders have reached a deal aimed at controlling the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe.

The deal was struck early on Friday morning after nearly 10 hours of negotiations at an EU summit in Brussels.

Leaders agreed that “controlled centres” could be set up in member states on a voluntary basis for “rapid and secure” processing to distinguish between irregular migrants and refugees eligible for asylum.

It was not yet clear which countries would host the centres.

The leaders also agreed to increase funding for Turkey and North Africa and strengthen Europe’s external borders.

“Regional disembarkation platforms” where migrants and refugees would be processed in non-EU countries, will be “swiftly explored” under the deal, according to the BBC.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said: “Today Italy is no longer alone”.

Italy had threatened to veto any deal if fellow EU leaders failed to do more to help the country, where a large share of incoming migrants and refugees arrive.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos hailed the agreement as a “first positive step towards more solidarity”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the EU still had “a lot of work to do to bridge the different views”.

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