Italy ready to block migrant summit (4)

Shared responsibility for sea rescues is Rome's red line

(ANSA) - Brussels, June 27 - Italy is ready to block the conclusions of the upcoming EU summit on migrants, sources said Wednesday. It is ready to do so, they said, unless the final text includes the concept of shared responsibility on sea rescues. The sources said this was the 'red line' for Rome.
    Italy is asking that there should be support from the other EU countries in the docking of of ships carrying out activities of search and rescue in the Mediterranean, and in the redistribution of migrants, the sources said.
    In essence, that would mean overcoming the Dublin Regulation and the country of entry's responsibility for migrant registration.
    If the concept of shared responsibility is accepted, the sources said, and a recognition of the need to work on arrivals, Rome is willing to collaborate on secondary movements, a delicate issue for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is vying with hawkish Interior Minister Horts Seehofer on this at a domestic level.
    As well, Italy will agree to having closed centres for migrants if other countresi do so at the request of France and Spain. Earlier Premier Giuseppe Conte said that the European Union must overhaul the Dublin Regulation on asylum. "The Dublin Regulation should be surpassed because there is no doubt that it is inadequate for the management of migratory flows," Conte said as he reported to the Lower House ahead of this week's summit. The regulation states that the country where an asylum seeker first arrives in the EU must handle the relative asylum request.
    This means that the burden of migrant flows from North Africa has fallen almost entirely upon Italy due to its geographic position. Italy is seeking to make this week's summit a turning point for the bloc, Conte said. "Italy's contribution can make the European Council a watershed," he said. "We must make it possible to design the Europe that we want".
    Conte stressed that his government "speaks with only one, firm and resolute, voice in Europe". "Italy is a net contributor to the EU budget, we think we deserve more attention" he added. The Lower House on Wednesday approved a resolution presented by the ruling majority, the League and the 5-Star Movement (M5S), on Conte's report to parliament ahead of this week's European summit. The resolution, which was approved with 320 votes in favour, 119 against and 126 abstentions, called for the government to pursue a strategy seeking to introduce migrant-reception centres in the countries of origin and transit, among other things. Conte will make a official visit to Washington for a bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump on July 30, sources said Wednesday. Earlier this month Trump told Fox News that Conte was "fantastic" and that "it seems being tough on immigration now pays".
    Meanwhile Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat said Wednesday that the Lifeline will be given permission to dock in Malta later in the day, adding that the migrant-rescue ship is set to be impounded. The ship, which is at the centre of an international wrangle, was given permission to enter Maltese waters to shelter from bad weather conditions earlier on Wednesday but did not get the green light to dock.
    "The Lifeline will be sequestered for the launch of an investigation," Muscat told a news conference.
    "The captain of the vessel ignored international laws".
    The NGO ship has been stranded for days in the Mediterranean after picking up the migrants in distress off the Libyan coast.
    The Italian government had threatened to impound the Lifeline if it came to Italy, saying the rescue was illegal. Italian Premier Conte said Tuesday that Malta had agreed to allow it to land there as part of a deal under which Italy and other EU countries would receive quotas of the migrants on board. However, the spokesman for the NGO, Axel Steier, told ANSA that German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had stopped Germany from taking part in the agreement to take in a share of the 233 migrants onboard.
    Steier said Seehofer was "Germany's Salvini". Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has spearheaded the tough stance on migrants of the new League/5-Star Movement (M5S) government that saw another NGO-run migrant-rescue ship, the Aquarius, have to travel to Valencia after it was denied permission to dock in an Italian port.
    Salvini continued his spat with French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview released by CNN on Wednesday. "Macron talks about values, but he doesn't recognize the values itself, and therefore they have no lessons to give to Italy," Salvini told CNN after the French leader criticised his tough stance on migrants. "With nice words we never obtained anything. In this month of government with our actions, we managed to be listened to - the Spanish intervened, Malta must intervene, and so do the French, the German, the Dutch ... it's clear that we need a different kind of politics.
    "We need to revisit the Dublin rules (on asylum), we need to invest in Africa. But I think we obtained more in this month than in the previous six years of chatter".
    (Speaking outside the Italian parliament, Salvin added that Macron is "acting up" and criticising the Italian government because his ratings have slumped to a new low. The deputy premier said "France must clear things up with the Italians and with itself: Macron is acting up because his popularity is at an all-time low in his country". Salvini added that Macron's caress for Pope Francis at an audience in the Vatican Tuesday was "something that has never been seen before".) Salvini also told CNN that being called a populist was a "compliment for me". The deputy premier said "the term populist is used as an insult but it's a compliment for me". He said "listening to people, being a minister who goes around cities, squares, stations and hospitals is a duty and a pleasure for me".
    (Salvini also said trade tariffs, floated by coalition partner and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio Tuesday, could defend Italians' jobs and health. Asked if he agreed with Di Maio, Salvini said "I will support all government proposals to defend the jobs and health of the Italians".
    He said "outlawed products, agricultural and commercial, are arriving which are a danger to health.
    "All protection also means commercial protections," he said.)


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