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Nations are starting to rebel against Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans to include more funding for refugees in the EU’s next budget, mainly from Italy’s new coalition government of Lega and the Five Star Movement.
Tensions reached fever pitch when Matteo Salvini, Rome’s new interior minister and deputy prime minister, blocked a ship carrying 630 migrants, including seven pregnant women, stranded in the Mediterranean.
With Malta also refusing to accept the Aquarius vessel operated by the charities Medecins Sans Frontieres and Sos Mediterranee, Spain’s new prime minister Pedro Sanchez instructed port officials to welcome the ship into Valencia.
Hungary’s praise for Italy’s rejection of the stranded migrants comes as another sign of the EU’s growing division over how to handle a future immigration crisis like that of 2015.
European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned Brussels the bloc “cannot afford another repetition of 2015”.
The EU’s migration and home affairs chief said member states must share in the responsibility because it is “the migration crisis that has put in danger the European project”.
Speaking to reporters after unveiling the EU’s plan to triple funding to defend its external borders, the Greek Commissioner said: “Our work is not over and it will not be any time soon. We have to be prepared because we cannot afford another repetition of 2015, neither politically nor financially.
"We shouldn’t allow migration to be a divisive element among us because unfortunately some positions taken by political parties in some governments are very worrying, not for the future of our migration policy but for the future of our common European home.
"Because finally it is the migration crisis that has put in danger the European project so it’s a question not only of political responsibility but of historic responsibility for everyone to take part in our common effort to share the responsibility to achieve our goal."
Brussels’ plans involves spending €34.9 billion between 2021-2027, as compared to €13 billion in the previous budget, to strengthen external borers.
This includes hiring an extra 10,000 news guards as part of a “new standing corps” and helping finance member states finance new customs control equipment.
Despite pledges to shore up the bloc’s borders, political infighting continues amongst member states over the situation.
The Five Star Movement’s leading MEP Laura Agea blast Emmanuel Macron for delivering “ethical lessons” to Italy and not addressing the real issues of the migration crisis.
The Italian said: “From 2014 to 2017, a total of 624,689 migrants have reached Italy by boats. Even though behind every arrival there is a smuggler and a well-organised racket, Italy has welcomed and rescued hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from wars and misery.
“Italy has already played its part in this matter. Merkel and Macron have repeatedly admitted that Italy has been left alone. The present "government of change" will not allow it anymore. Gabriel Attal, the spokesperson for the French majority party, En Marche, should inform himself, possibly without being biased and he should criticise himself.
“The methods used by his country in Ventimiglia and Bardonecchia do not put him in a moral position that allows him to provide ethical lessons to anyone.”
Mr Macron said Italy was “playing politics” by refusing to take in the migrants who were rescued off the Libyan coast.
The French President’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the he recalled that "in cases of distress, those with the nearest coastline have a responsibility to respond".
"There is a degree of cynicism and irresponsibility in the Italian government's behaviour," he quoted President Macron as saying.
Last update on by John Rosatelli.
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