Brussels, Belgium (BBN)-Germany and several other nations are to discuss with Turkey ways of settling thousands of Syrian refugees ahead of the final EU summit of the year.
Those attending the meeting will discuss a proposal to resettle Syrians straight from camps in Turkey, reports BBC.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the driving force behind the plans, faces resistance from other EU states.
Thursday’s full EU summit in Brussels is set to focus heavily on the migrant crisis which has divided members.
Record numbers of people have arrived in Europe this year, prompting some states to build fences and introduce border controls in defiance of the EU’s border-free Schengen area.
The resettlement proposal would see EU countries accept Syrian refugees directly from Turkey under a voluntary scheme.
It is hoped the plan will stop people making the dangerous sea journey to Greece and will be more palatable for EU members than obligatory quotas.
Turkey and European leaders struck a deal last month in which Ankara tries to prevent migrants leaving in exchange for financial aid and political concessions.
Migration – How have the decisions taken in response to the migrant crisis been implemented?
Terrorism – Border controls, radicalisation, exchange of information and counter-terror co-operation after the Paris attacks
UK referendum – British Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed a number of reforms as the UK gears up for an in/out vote on EU membership
Single market – Measures designed to boost the continent’s single market
Economic and monetary union – In a year that could have seen Greece ejected from the euro, leaders will discuss proposals from EU chiefs
The wider EU summit will discuss European Commission plans to create an EU coast guard, and other ways to strengthen external borders.
The fight against terrorism is also expected to dominate the summit after it emerged that at least two of the Paris attackers used the migrant route to travel to France.
Many migrants are themselves fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, seeking to reach northern Europe.
Keen to keep migration and terror as separate issues, European Council President Donald Tusk said “the protection of our external borders is not intended to scare off those who flee wars or persecution”.
“Europe is a community of freedom and will always provide shelter for those in danger,” he wrote in a summit invitation.
The summit will also discuss British efforts to renegotiate its membership of the EU before holding a referendum, by the end of 2017, on whether to say or leave.
Chancellor Merkel has stressed the “enormous importance” of avoiding a British exit but said she was not prepared to give in to all of Prime Minister David Cameron’s demands for reform.