Italy Wants EU to Set Up Migrant Centers South of Libya

(Bloomberg) -- Italy will urge European Union leaders to push for setting up centers to process would-be migrants south of Libya’s border, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini Monday said during a visit to the north African country.

“Italy and Libya cannot be the only countries bearing the costs of migration,” Salvini told reporters, adding that Italy would propose the creation of “identification centers” at the EU summit in Brussels scheduled on Thursday and Friday.

Salvini, who is deputy premier and leads the anti-migrant League, said he will do all he can to ensure only Libyan authorities deal with migrants off the Libyan coast, denouncing “turf invasions by those organizations which seek to replace governments and de facto help illegal trafficking.”

"Migrant centers are now under United Nations auspices, I would like them to be under the UN and the European Union flag," Salvini said at a press conference in Rome, referring to a migrant center he visited earlier Monday in Tripoli.

Salvini has made migration the priority issue for the new populist coalition government, stopping migrant ships run by humanitarian organizations from reaching Italy and sparring with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Salvini said he is "surprised by the nastiness of the French, who as far as words go, speak beautifully." He added that they should open their ports to migrant ships, including Lifeline, currently stranded in the Mediterranean.

European leaders made little tangible progress on tackling migration flows at an informal gathering of leaders in Brussels Sunday.

"If Merkel was here, I would ask her to move from words to facts after she said Italy must not be left alone. I would ask the same thing of Macron, to show that Europe should still exist."

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