Italy Sabotages EU Summit, Cancels Migration Meeting
Italy’s new populist government made headlines again on Thursday at its first major European Union meeting when it blocked all joint decisions ahead of a planned conference on immigration.
The EU had long awaited a controversial meeting of leadership on migration, which was temporarily cancelled after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte refused to accept the joint council conclusions, even on noncontroversial topics, Politico reports.
Conte expressed doubt over where the meeting on migration was headed days leading up to the meeting, but his move to stall the entire conversation was unexpected.
The month-old administration has already made significant steps towards curbing migration in its own country by blocking several migrant boats from docking at its ports and continuing harsh rhetoric towards immigrants. (RELATED: Italy’s New Interior Minister Demands Boat Carrying Migrant To Turn Around)
Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said that he doesn’t want Italy to be a part of an “illegal immigrant business.”
Italian leadership made it clear in recent weeks that the EU sharing equal responsibility of rescuing migrants at sea was a red line for them and their cooperation.
Other leaders at the summit urged Conte not to block decisions on other issues over Italy’s stance on migration, including legislation that promotes digital innovation and strengthening joint defense operations, an official at the meeting told Politico.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” an Italian official said.
The press conference on migration is reportedly pushed back until the end of the two-day summit, which would be sometime tomorrow.
The conference was supposed to be significant for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s facing a political crisis over the issue.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Merkel’s Bavarian coalition partner, pledged to start turning migrants away at the border if the chancellor did not come up with a migration solution by this weekend.
Conte’s move appears to have confirmed the EU’s worst fears that his coalition government, made up of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement and the hard-right League Party, would cause further division among the 28-state council.
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