EU leaders met late into the night Monday over last-minute proposals out of Ankara to take back migrants from Greece in return for a doubling of EU aid and other concessions, but the plan looked unlikely to win immediate approval.

Europe has struggled with an influx that saw more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers reach its shores last year, with some 135,000 more already since January. Many are fleeing the war in Syria, but economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East have joined their ranks.

To stem the flows, the European Union has sought help from Turkey, which has been the launch pad for most migrants. Last year, Brussels offered 3 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars) to improve the lives of Syrians in Turkey, in return for efforts by Ankara to prevent their onward journey.

"But still the waves of refugees are continuing," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, speaking at NATO on the outskirts of Brussels, while EU leaders mulled plans he had unexpectedly put to them earlier Monday.

Monday's talks were extended into the evening to discuss the new ideas out of Ankara, but EU leaders struggled to find common ground. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said a breakthrough looked unlikely Monday, according to his country's EU representation.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vetoed a Turkish request for asylum seekers to be directly resettled from Turkey to EU member states, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on Twitter.

Davutoglu said the new proposal sought to "rescue the lives of the refugees, ... to fight against human smugglers, and to have a new era in Turkish-EU relations." 

Under the plan, seen by dpa, Turkey would "readmit expeditiously all irregular migrants crossing into the Greek islands from Turkey ... for a temporary period and only for humanitarian purposes."

In return, Turkey demanded that the EU take in Syrian refugees living on Turkish soil, with one asylum seeker to be resettled for each migrant taken back from Greece.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said this would deal a "blow against traffickers," by convincing people to file for asylum before leaving Turkey.

Davutoglu said that Ankara and Brussels would also seek to "rescue these refugees before they cross [the] Turkish border." He did not provide further details.

The Turkish proposal calls on the EU to approve an additional 3 billion euros for Syrian refugees in Turkey by 2018.

Other demands include lifting EU visa requirements for Turkish citizens before July and progress in Ankara's long-running efforts to join the bloc.

Davutoglu called for "solidarity" before meeting his EU counterparts, noting that Turkey and the bloc need one another. Ankara says it has taken in 2.7 million Syrian refugees at a cost of more than 10 billion dollars.

But Austrian Finance Minister Hans-Joerg Schelling said he was "not prepared" to make more money available until countries including his received more help in shouldering the burdens of the refugee crisis.

The talks with Davutoglu also touched on other issues, notably the Turkish government's recent takeover of opposition media.

Leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron voiced their concerns during the summit, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Earlier, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called for an "honest" exchange with Davutoglu, saying "it cannot be that because of the refugee issue other values that are important for Europe, such as freedom of the media, just get thrown overboard."

EU leaders were due to discuss border restrictions imposed along the Western Balkan migration route from Greece to northern Europe. The move has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Greece, which was already overwhelmed with thousands of stranded migrants.

More than 13,000 people were waiting to cross from Greece into Macedonia, aid agencies estimated early Monday. Local media reported that the border between the two countries was closed, including for freight trains.

Merkel was resisting moves at the summit to declare the Western Balkan route closed, as demanded by countries along the path.

"When it comes to the question of how we get the number of refugees to decrease not just for some, few countries, but for all countries - including Greece - it cannot be about closing something or other," Merkel told journalists.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.