Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

"Shameful" handling of migrant ship shows need for European Union asylum reform


Angrily rejecting French criticism of its immigration policies, Italy summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday and cancelled a planned meeting between the Italian economy minister and his counterpart in Paris.

"If an official apology doesn't arrive, prime minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters after demanding that France take in more migrants.

Mr Salvini told the Senate: "We have nothing to learn about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming, and solidarity from anyone".

He has repeatedly accused charities of working with human traffickers but said Italy would not stop rescuing migrant boats itself.

Spain offered to welcome migrants aboard the Aquarius rescue ship after Italy and Malta refused to take them in.

Euronews correspondent Anelise Borges is on board the vessel, which is expected to arrive in Valencia in four days.

"With my German and Austrian colleagues. we will propose a new (immigration) initiative", Salvini said, adding that it would apply both to the EU's external borders and to how the bloc's countries manage migrants internally.

The countries' two economy ministers also spoke by telephone, French finance ministry official said, and agreed to reschedule their cancelled meeting.

The move comes hours after Italy summoned the French ambassador to the foreign ministry in Rome.

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Sophie Beau said Wednesday in a news conference in Marseille, France, "it's a relief for everyone, our teams and of course above all for the survivors to know that they are finally allowed to head to a safe port in Europe".

But Italy's foreign minister, Enzo Moavero, kept up the barrage by telling a French envoy that Macron's comments were "unjustifiable" and had compromised bilateral relations.

Salvini told the Senate he was open to a possible "axis" with Germany and Austria on immigration ahead of a key European Union summit at the end of June that will, in part, consider changes to European Union asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants. Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated worldwide humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

"I am happy about the good cooperation that we want to develop between Rome, Vienna and Berlin - I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe", said Kurz, whose country assumes the EU's rotating presidency on July 1.

But there was also criticism from Spain, despite its gesture of solidarity.

On Wednesday, she said discussions between Italy, Germany and Austria were about finding "a Europe-wide solution".

Refugees have continued to arrive as politicians trade blame.

On Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard in a sign that Italy under the populist 5-Star Movement and anti-migrant League is still accepting some migrants, but is forcing other countries to share the burden.

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