Rome, June 5 (IANS/AKI) Migration should not be the butt of jokes and is an issue to be tackled by the whole of Europe, Italy’s populist Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.
“Let’s not make the mistake of joking around. Our position is clear: we will fight the people traffickers and their criminal gangs.
“We want this topic to be handled in full respect of the dignity of the many who are suffering… and for the problem to dealt with at European level,” Conte told the Senate.
In a wide-ranging maiden speech, Conte branded Europe’s immigration policy a “failure” and demanded it be re-negotiated, vowing to “put an end to the immigration ‘business” which has “thrived under the guise of solidarity”.
European Union leaders in December set an end-of-June deadline for an overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules to create a permanent mechanism to deal with migrants in the event of a new emergency.
Italy, Greece and Spain are the main entry points to Europe and under the current rules, countries where migrants first arrive have to process their asylum requests.
Hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said separately the proposed reforms of the Dublin rules condemn Italy and other Mediterranean countries to continue bearing the burden of an unprecedented migration crisis for the 28-nation bloc.
Salvini heads of the anti-migrant League party – junior coalition partner in the populist government – Western Europe’s first – which was sworn in last week, sending jitters through financial markets and European capitals after three months of political limbo in Italy.