Italy threatens EU funding in migrant row

Dozens of people have been blocked at the Sicilian port of Catania on the Diciotti vessel since Monday night because the Italian government is refusing to allow them to disembark without commitments from the EU to take some of them in.

Italy threatens EU funding in migrant row

World Bulletin / News Desk

Italy's populist government warned it would pull European Union funding unless it agrees to take some of the 150 people stranded on an Italian coastguard ship Friday, sparking a fresh immigration row with the bloc.

But a high-level meeting of a dozen EU member states in Brussels on Friday, held to discuss what officials said was the broader issue of the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea, failed to produce an immediate solution for the Diciotti migrants.

"The European Union has decided to turn its back on Italy once again," Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on his Facebook page, adding that his country had no choice but to "take a compensatory measure in a unilateral way... we are ready to reduce the funds that we give to the European Union".

"They want the 20 billion euros ($23 billion) paid by Italian citizens? Then let them demonstrate that they deserve it and that they are taking charge of a problem that we can no longer face alone. The borders of Italy are the borders of Europe," he added.

Di Maio had earlier warned that "if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti and the redistribution of the migrants, I and the whole Five Star Movement (his party) will no longer be prepared to give 20 billion euros to the European Union every year."

Migration is a hot-button issue in Italy, where hundreds of thousands of people have arrived since 2013 fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Under EU rules people must seek asylum in their country of arrival, but Italy's new government has increasingly barred boats from docking at its ports.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ağustos 2018, 10:58
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