Italy’s hardline positions on immigration are making inroads in the European Union, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday after an exchange of letters with Brussels.
Conte posted on Facebook a copy of a letter from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, written in response to one Conte had written to him and European Council President Donald Tusk earlier this week.
“Juncker de facto accepts the principle that immigration is a European challenge, concerning all 28 EU countries and therefore requiring European, not one-country solutions,’’ Conte said.
The EU commission chief wrote that he would explore Conte’s suggestion to set up a “crisis unit” to coordinate among several member states and share the burden of migrants arriving by sea.
Juncker warned that “ad hoc” deals, as struck on the weekend, when six other EU nations accepted to take in some migrants who landed in Italy, were not a “sustainable and satisfactory way to proceed.”
Conte leads a newly-installed populist government, which says that migrants rescued off Libya, whether by NGO-run ships or EU naval missions, should no longer all be taken to Italian ports.
That stance has attracted criticism from human rights groups and caused tensions with some EU partners.
EU ambassadors in Brussels were due to resume discussions on the naval mission later Friday, while a spokeswoman said the EU commission would present fresh migration proposals coming week.
The spokeswoman said the proposals would try to flesh out the idea of creating migrant sorting centres, both on EU soil and in Africa, as suggested at an EU summit in June.