With unity in peril, EU leaders tackle refugee quotas

European Union leaders are grappling with one of the most divisive issues ever to face the 28-nation bloc; how to collectively share responsibility for the tens of thousands of people arriving on Europe's southern shores in search of a better life.

Ahead of an EU summit Thursday, fresh tensions have surfaced over the perceived need for national refugee quotas. So far, solidarity with front-line nations Greece and Italy, where the refugees land, has been limited. A mandatory quota scheme was opposed mainly by eastern European nations — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

For Europe, the political crisis over migrants is existential, despite the fact that migrant arrivals have dropped dramatically this year.