EU President Donald Tusk warned on Monday that the migration crisis affecting Europe was part of an "exodus" from war-torn hotspots that could last years.
"The present wave of migration is not a one-time incident but the beginning of a real exodus, which only means that we will have to deal with this problem for many years to come," Tusk said in a speech at the Bruegel Institute, a think-tank in Brussels.
"Therefore, it is so important to learn how to live with it without blaming each other," he added.
European leaders are scrambling for solutions as bloody conflicts in mainly Syria and Iraq send hundreds of thousands of refugees on dangerous voyages through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean to the 28-nation EU.
"But let us have no illusions that we have a silver bullet to reverse the situation," he said.
Tusk, who represents the bloc's leaders, urged for pragmatism and said member states must put aside their deep differences in facing the wave of migrants.
"Also, we should not feel ashamed of our emotions," Tusk said, just days after an image of a refugee toddler drowned on a beach in Turkey shocked the world.
"Compassion is one of the foundations of solidarity, but in order to be able to help others we ourselves must be pragmatic at the same time," he said.