EU leaders are set to debate on Wednesday a plan to end the practice of mass deportation of migrants and asylum seekers and deport only people with criminal records, the first such measure since the end of the Cold War.
It will be part of an ambitious package of measures to reduce the number of migrants arriving by Europe’s biggest continent.
The package is due to be discussed in Brussels for the first time on Wednesday and will be seen by some as an attempt to tackle a growing humanitarian crisis in the continent.
Many Europeans are worried about the impact on their communities of the millions of people who are leaving for Europe every year.
Some fear that if the scheme is not enacted, thousands of people could be forced to return home.
It comes after the EU and Turkey agreed on Tuesday to close the border between the two countries.
In return, Turkey agreed to halt its mass deportation programme, and will now only take people with valid asylum claims from Italy.
A number of European countries have already agreed to introduce their own mass deportation schemes to cope with the current influx of people.
Turkey has also imposed visa requirements on people travelling from Turkey, as part of a bid to stem the flow of refugees to Europe.
The European Union has been grappling with the issue of mass migration, which has become the biggest challenge to the bloc’s future and to its European values, as it struggles to cope.
Last year, some 8.5 million people came to Europe’s 27 member states, mostly fleeing war, persecution or poverty.
They are currently living in about 150 countries across the EU.
More than half are Syrians.