Two years after the Mediterranean migrant crisis set the European Union on a disintegration course, efforts to patch up the differences and decide on what to do with the refugees has proved abortive.
The issues of refugees and EU asylum rules has continued to tear leaders of the bloc apart.
A free-wheeling discussion over a Brussels summit dinner that began on Thursday night and spilled into the wee hours of Friday was intended to clear the air and see if there was a way to reconcile opposing views on how to reform defunct asylum rules.
But leaders emerging from nearly three hours of talks made clear that while there was little of the angry passion of 2015, when a million people flooded into Greece and headed for Germany, the “frank and sober” discussion failed to blunt sharp rifts pitting some eastern states against many of the rest.
“We have a lot of work to do,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. “The positions have not changed.”
Divisions over how to share out relatively small numbers of refugees have poisoned relations in the EU, complicating efforts to present a united front in talks with London on Brexit and to agree an EU budget out to 2028.