Italy Urges EU to Relieve Its Migrant Situation, Warns Schengen in Danger

Italy Urges EU to Relieve Its Migrant Situation, Warns Schengen in Danger

Giuseppe Conte, the Prime Minister in Italy’s new populist Cabinet, has urged other EU member states to relieve the burden on his country resulting from the influx of migrants.

Speaking at an informal mini-summit attended by the leaders of just 16 of the 28 EU members in Brussels on Sunday, the new Italian leader has also warned that the migrant crisis has put at risk the Schengen Agreement.

The “borderless” Schengen Area, which provides for visa-free travel, encompasses most of the EU and EEA member states.

The informal mini-summit has been held against the backdrop of international controversies with stranded NGO migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea as well as a split in Germany’s government between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Acknowledging in effect the lack of an EU-wide consensus for a solution to the migrant crisis, Merkel stated after the mini-summit that bilateral and trilateral agreements among like-minded EU members should be made use of in order to tackle the issue.

During Sunday’s emergency mini-summit, which has been held ahead of next Thursday’s EU leaders’ summit, Italy’s Prime Minister Conte has presented a document asking for establishing migrant “protection centers” in other EU states, as his own country has received over 600,000 migrants in the past four years.

“Whoever lands in Italy lands in Europe…. Schengen is at risk,” says the document of the Italian government as cited by the BBC.

Italy’s new populist coalition Cabinet has made it clear it intends to deport over half a million undocumented migrants.

The Italian authorities have already threatened to end the migrant rescue operation in the Mediterranean of German NGO Mission Lifeline, and have refused to accept two ships with migrants.

The first one, the Aquarius, has been received in Spain with 630 migrants on board. The second one, the Lifeline, remains stranded with 230 migrants on board.

Following Sunday’s mini-summit, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has made it clear he is “decidedly satisfied” with its results.

“We have steered the debate that is under way in the right direction,” Conte declared in a tweet.

(Banner image: Flickr)

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