The Times of Malta reports that Italy never fulfilled its pledge to take 50 migrants from Malta, undermining Rome’s political posturing as it continues to lash out at EU States for failing to do their part in relieving arrivals.
Migration sources have hit back at Italy’s right-wing Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, who singled out Malta, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Ireland for not taking the migrants they promised to absorb from a boat of 450 that landed in Pozzallo last month.
“Italy should stop naming and shaming countries when it is the one which is often holding up the process,” said a source, speaking on condition on anonymity.
All eyes on Friday were on an informal meeting of senior European leaders organised by the European Commission to discuss disembarkation amid threats by Italy to pull funding for the European Union unless member states agreed to take people from the Diciotti in.
But the talks ended without producing a solution for the stranded refugees and migrants, some of whom earlier on Friday reportedly started a hunger strike.
“This was not a meeting where decisions were taken”, a Commission spokesperson said in a statement. “It was a meeting that was organised by the Commission to harvest ideas and contributions to the on-going work to put in place a more predictable, sustainable and cooperative approach on disembarkation and responsibility sharing.”
After the meeting, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned on Facebook that “Italy will act accordingly”.
“We once again take note of the discrepancy, which borders hypocrisy, between words and action,” he said. Al Jazeera
The European Union replied to Di Maio threat that threats won’t get Italy anywhere.
The commission has called an emergency meeting of 12 governments to discuss the fate of the Diciotti and other measures to distribute refugees across member states in Brussels today.
Times of Malta reported that the meeting between 10 European Union member states on Friday failed to come up with a solution to the latest migration tussle in the Mediterranean, diplomats said.
Responding to Mr Di Maio’s budget comments, a spokesman for the European Commission said Brussels was determined to find a solution to the migrant impasse and would not respond to threats.
“Lets not engage in finger pointing. Unconstructive comments, let alone threats, are not helpful. Threats don’t work in Europe. They don’t get you anywhere”, said the spokesman. “We would call on all parties involved to work constructively together”.
EU governments have been divided over the best way to handle migration policy in recent months. European leaders in June agreed to set up “disembarkation platforms” outside the EU to take migrants rescued at sea and process their asylum claims. But no third countries have yet been identified to house the platforms.
Di Maio, Italy’s deputy prime minister has threatened to pull the country’s EU funding if the bloc does not come to the aid of 150 people stranded aboard an Italian coastguard ship, drawing a rebuke from Brussels.
High-level officials from 12 EU member states were meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss what EU officials said was the broader issue of the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea. EU sources said they did not know whether the delegates would strike a deal on the Diciotti during their talks.
“If tomorrow [Friday] nothing comes out of the European Commission meeting, if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti and the redistribution of the migrants, I and the whole Five Star Movement will no longer be prepared to give €20 billion to the European Union every year.”
EU figures for 2016 say Italy contributed just under €14 billion to the EU budget — less than one percent of its gross national income — while the bloc spent €11.6 billion in Italy.
Earlier this month Italy said that is ready to repeat the tough tactics it used to win concessions from the European Union on migration when the forthcoming budget battle gets serious.
Italy’s anti-establishment coalition wants enough flexibility to introduce a flat tax and a citizen’s income next year without running foul of EU budget restrictions, Di Maio said in an interview with Bloomberg News Wednesday. He suggested that if the EU changed the way the deficit was calculated then his government’s plans could be implemented without breaching the limit.
The Local, Bloomberg, TgCom, FT