By Lachlan Carmichael
European Union nations have agreed to hasten the deportation of failed asylum seekers as they took a harder line toward tackling the worst migration crisis since World War II.
Interior ministers from the 28-nation bloc on Thursday endorsed a dedicated program to send back those they described as economic migrants - who are largely from poor African nations - and not refugees from conflict-torn Middle East countries.
After months of tensions over the wave of nearly 600,000 people who have flooded into Europe this year, the EU is now taking a tougher stance by focusing on tightening border controls and reducing the incentive for people to come to the continent in the first place.
"Those who do not require international protection must return to their countries of origin," Luxembourg minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the EU presidency, told reporters after the talks.
Only around 40 per cent of people ordered to leave after their asylum applications failed currently actually leave or are deported from Europe, he said.
"We need to crack down on people abusing our asylum system," British Home Secretary Theresa May said as she arrived at the talks.
Ten return flights from Europe will now take place this month, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said, in what his staff said already marks an increase as Europe gets tougher.
The ministers suggested they would use European development funds as leverage to ensure that countries of origin - mainly those in Africa - will take back economic migrants after they are deported.
"A fine balance of incentives and pressure should be used to enhance the cooperation of third countries on readmission and return," the conclusions of the talks said.
The migration crisis is causing political problems in many EU countries where anti-immigration and eurosceptic parties are on the rise amid economic difficulties, as well as divisions between EU nations.