Italy and Germany clash as migration rows split EU

Marco Green
June 22, 2018

The migrant crisis threatens to engulf German Chancellor Angela Merkel's own government.

"The chancellor clarified that there had been a "misunderstanding".

Italian authorities said the Lifeline and Seefuchs, operated by the German migrant rescue group Mission Lifeline, were "illegally" flying the Dutch flag.

Italy's hard-line interior minister has refused port to a Dutch-flagged rescue boat with 224 migrants on board, a week after turning away another foreign ship, the Aquarius, which was carrying 630 migrants.

On Thursday, Danilo Toninelli, the Italian transport minister, said the coast guard would pick up the migrants because it was too risky for the boat to travel to the Netherlands with so many people - including 14 women and four small children - on board.

After allowing in more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015, sparking a strong backlash against immigration, Ms Merkel is now fighting for her political future. There have been 41,000 sea arrivals so far this year, data shows. More than 600,000 have reached Italy from Libya in the past four years.

But Bulgaria said it would argue at the weekend talks for the EU's external borders to be shut completely to migrants and centers for war refugees set up outside its territory.

Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday hosted a meeting of the "Visegrad 4" former Communist countries, with the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

"We understand that there a mini-summit on Sunday but we would like to state clearly that the prime ministers of V4 agreed that they will not go to that".

Her hardline interior minister Horst Seehofer on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to reach European Union deals with already heavily burdened European Union frontline states such as Italy and Greece to allow Germany to turn back asylum seekers who previously registered in another member country.

National border controls would undermine the EU's open border system and could cause a German government crisis, although Merkel tried to play this down, too.

"A number of member states, including Malta, are in contact on this case". In a reference to migrants, Salvini said: "We can't take even one more, actually we want to hand over a couple".

Hence, she asked other European Union states to hold extra talks this Sunday and agree to do more on migration in the hope that would be enough to convince Seehofer not to go it alone.

United Nations refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi on Friday urged them to "find a new and united approach" to migration and asylum, saying it was achievable. But Avramopoulos said such bases would not be "Guantanamo Bay for migrants", in a reference to the widely-condemned USA detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, set up to hold terrorism suspects.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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