This article was published by Al Jazeera International.
Valletta, Malta - As Europe's leaders forged a new common policy on rescuing refugees at sea, one small ship came to embody the battle for the soul of the continent.
The MV Lifeline soared to notoriety this week after it refused to hand over 233 refugees and migrants it rescued to Libyan authorities.
The vessel, operated by German charity Mission Lifeline, picked the refugees up just outside Libya's 12-mile territorial waters on June 21. What followed pitted governments against freelance search-and-rescuers.