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Thursday 20 February 2020

Italy PM threatens to veto EU summit statement on migration

The Italian Prime Minister called this week's summit a 'watershed' on the issue

Brussels: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday threatened to veto an EU summit statement on migration if fellow leaders fail to do more to help Italy cope with migrants.


The summit, taking place in Brussels from 28-29 June, is designed to address the tensions between EU members over mass arrivals of migrants, many of whom continue to land in southern Mediterranean countries by boat.

The summit in Brussels comes as EU leaders warn that the event could determine the fate of the bloc itself as anti-European movements could profit from a flare-up of tensions on migration.

The Italian Prime Minister called this week’s summit a “watershed” on the issue.

“It’s a possibility I hope not to consider, but if we reach that point, on my behalf we will not have shared conclusions,” Conte told reporters when asked if Italy would veto the statement on migration.

He said that he saw many signs of support during his individual meetings with EU leaders but wanted them translated into action.

“In the meetings I’ve had I have received many displays of solidarity,” Conte said on Thursday. “Today is a very important day, we’re waiting for these statements to be turned into action.”

“Italy does not need more words, but concrete facts,” added.

Conte’s new populist government has accused the European Union of failing to share responsibility for asylum seekers landing on its shores since the migration crisis erupted in 2015.

Italy has demanded that current rules requiring asylum seekers to file their application in the first EU State in which they arrive be replaced with a system to distribute migrants across the entire bloc. Such plans are strongly opposed by eastern European countries, particularly Hungary and Poland.

Migration could prove a “make-or-break” issue for the whole of the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“We cannot leave those countries where asylum seekers arrive to deal with [the problem] alone. If we do not get an agreement with the 28 EU Member States, we will then need to consider a coalition of the willing on migrant policy,” she told the German parliament on Thursday.

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