Italy Ready to Clash Again With EU Over Migrant Redistribution

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio accused his European partners of not taking in migrants arriving on Italy’s coasts and threatened to stop financial contributions to the European Union.

“If tomorrow at the meeting of the European Commission nothing is decided on the redistribution of migrants and the Diciotti ship, I and the entire Five Star Movement are not willing to give 20 billion to the European Union,” Di Maio said Thursday in a video posted on his Facebook page.

He echoed statements by Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, who has refused to allow 177 migrants to leave the Italian coastguard ship Ubaldo Diciotti, which is docked in the Sicilian port of Catania. While Italian prosecutors opened an investigation into the detention of the migrants and 29 children were allowed to disembark, Salvini still won’t allow the rest of the people to come ashore and has attacked the EU for its “cowardly silence.”

This is not the first time Italy has clashed with Brussels on this issue. In June, Salvini refused to accept the Aquarius boat with its load of 629 migrants. At the time Spain agreed to let the boat dock. On Wednesday Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Facebook that promises made by EU partners in the past had not been kept. He said only France had taken a few migrants in, while Germany, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Malta, which had previously offered to share some of the burden, were not doing so.

Italy is “waiting for a strong and clear answer from the European institutions and an adequate response from the other European countries,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.