Rome, 24 July (AKI) Italy wants European solidarity on boat migrants rather than money, populist Premier Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday, commenting on a reported European Union plan to pay member states cash to shelter rescued migrants.
‘Italy’s position has never been based on economics – European solidarity is priceless,’ said Conte.
Other EU states were ‘completely indifferent’ to the drama being played out in the Mediterranean, he added.
Conte was commenting on a Financial Times report that the European Commission has proposed paying 6,000 euros for each migrant rescued in the Mediterranean and sheltered ‘on a voluntary basis’ by an EU country in ‘secure centres’, up to a maximum of 500 migrants.
Hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini earlier slammed the EU executive’s reported plan, saying that Italy ‘doesn’t need charity’.
‘If they want to give money to someone else let them do so, Italy doesn’t need charity,’ said Salvini, who is also Deputy Premier.
In a letter to Conte on Thursday, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pledged to try and identify nations that would shelter migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
Better coordination mechanisms were needed on migration to Europe, ‘but only as a stage towards a more stable framework,’ he wrote, adding that ‘ad hoc’ solutions such as the relocation of rescued migrants on a ship-by-ship basis were ‘unsustainable’.
Juncker received a letter last week from Conte urging the EU to set up a ‘crisis cell’ that would mediate with states on the relocation migrants as follow-up to the conclusions of a European Council summit in late June.
At their fractious June 28-29 summit in Brussels, European leaders controversially agreed to set up secure centres for migrants in the bloc, to tighten its borders, create ‘disembarkation platforms’ outside the bloc and to redistribute refugees among member states.