Thanks to the “regime change” in Lybia, the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Syria, thousands of north-africans are trying their luck in Italy.
ROME: Italy threatened Sunday to turn to a Plan B to deal with migrants which “would hurt Europe” if the country is not given greater help with the crisis, as Austria and France expelled asylum seekers back onto Italian soil.
The country is struggling to accommodate an endless wave of boat migrants, and a crackdown on security at the French and Austrian borders over the past few days has exacerbated the situation, causing a bottleneck at Italy’s train stations.
The crisis “should not be underestimated,” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in an interview published in the Corriere della Sera daily.
“It is a serious issue and, let me be clear, Europe’s answers so far have not been good enough,” he added.
The EU is having difficulty achieving consensus for its proposed migrant distribution plan — under which 24,000 refugees would be taken in by other countries — but Italy is hoping an EU summit on June 25-26 will go even further.
“Redistributing just 24,000 people is almost a provocation,” Renzi said. “If Europe chooses solidarity, good. If it doesn’t, we have Plan B ready. But it would first and foremost hurt Europe,” he said, without providing details.
The premier has come under pressure to take a stronger stance with the 28-member bloc, with the anti-establishment Five Star movement suggesting Italy threaten to freeze its EU budget contributions if aid is not forthcoming.
Over 57,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been rescued at sea and brought to Italy so far this year — up from 54,000 at the same time last year — Renzi said, and Rome wants other countries to shoulder part of the burden.
It also wants the EU to share the cost of quickly repatriating would-be unskilled economic migrants, who currently make up around 60 percent of those arriving by boat.