A deadly Islamist attack in Belgium by a rejected asylum-seeker from Tunisia who earlier lived in Italy and Sweden has underlined security gaps and failed returns policies, which have spurred an EU push to overhaul its troubled migration system.

Monday's shooting came at a time of heightened security concerns across Europe linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

It also coincided with alarm sounded by countries including Italy and Germany over increasing unauthorized arrivals of migrants as the 27-nation EU seeks to agree tighter migration and asylum rules ahead of a blocwide election next June.