Italy Warns EU on Refugee Crisis

Italy Warns EU on Refugee CrisisItaly Warns EU on Refugee Crisis

Italy stepped up calls for a change to European asylum rules on Sunday as neighboring states tightened border controls, turning back African migrants and leaving hundreds stranded at the frontier in northern Italy.

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Saturday the international community bore responsibility for chaos in Libya that has opened the way for hundreds of thousands of migrants to cross by boat to southern Italy.

He called for a change to the so-called Dublin regulations, which assign most asylum seekers to the EU country they first enter and said he would discuss the issue with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron when they visit Italy this week, Reuters reported.

“If the European Council chooses solidarity, then good. If it doesn’t, we have a Plan B ready but that would be a wound inflicted on Europe,” he said, without giving details.

Italy has long complained that its European partners are shirking their responsibilities and leaving southern Mediterranean countries to handle the migrant emergency without effective support.

In a separate interview on Sunday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano called for other European countries to take more migrants from Italy and set up centers in Libya to identify genuine asylum seekers and send back those not qualifying.

“Europe, signing as Europe, has to sign repatriation agreements with all the African countries,” he said, and a failure to do so would put Italy on a confrontation course with the rest of the 28-nation EU.

The angry comments underlined the growing tensions on migrant policy within the EU, which is already struggling to hold a joint line on other problems including the crises in Greece and Ukraine.