A few hours ago, the Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi stated that Italy would continue to accept migrant rescues vessels for another five weeks while the EU will be renegotiating its existing policy on migration and redistribution.

Since the establishment of the new coalition government headed by the far-right League and the Five Star Movement, Italy has taken a hard line on migration. The country is indeed the main point of entry for immigrants coming to Europe by sea and is now calling EU attention on the immediate necessity to share the burden of migrant arrivals among EU Member States.

Just a month ago, the new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that the “Schengen Zone of visa-free travel across much of Europe was in danger if the EU failed to reach a consensus on the issue of migration”. In the same month, the Italian government was at the center of a media storm for having refused to allow 629 migrants aboard the charity rescue ship Aquarius to disembark. The vessel was eventually diverted to a Spanish port after more than a week stranding in the Mediterranean Sea.

Another charity ship, Lifeline, was only able to dock in Malta after eight EU Member States agreed to take in a number of those on board. Italy had again refused to allow the vessel to enter its ports.

The renegotiation of the EU redistribution policy is thus urged now more than ever, as more and more migrant rescue ships will operate in the Mediterranean in the coming months.

Gabriella Cinque

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