Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio is sending strong messages to the European Union (EU) on behalf of the country’s right-leaning government, warning the bloc that Italy will begin to oppose parts of the EU’s budget that don’t work for them amid growing immigration frustrations between the two entities.
Di Maio warned that Italy is ready to “veto the budget and any dossiers where it’s possible,” in an interview with La Stampa on Monday, Bloomberg reports.
Tensions between the country and its bloc partners escalated around Aug. 21 when Italy refused a migrant boat carrying 177 people, mostly migrants from Eritrea and Somalia, from docking at its port.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the stranded migrants that they were not allowed to disembark on Italy’s soil until “Europe steps in to help.”
Italy has been clashing with its EU counterparts for months over the immigration issue, but threats to block the budget bring its warnings to a new level. (RELATED: Italy Sabotages EU Summit, Cancels Migration Meeting)
“We will look at all measures in discussions regarding the European budget and will block what doesn’t work for us,” Di Maio said in a Facebook video Sunday.
“The other states are not doing what’s not convenient for them,” he said, referring to the refusal by other countries to accept the migrant boats that arrive at Italy’s ports.
Representatives from EU member-states were unsuccessful in resolving the destiny for the Ubaldo Dicotti rescue ship on Aug. 24 in Brussels, prompting the Italian government to take their threats further.
Salvini said there are no plans to leave the EU, but that there needs to be major changes in the organization, considering not everyone is taking on the same responsibilities.
“We’re there, but we want to re-discuss the costs of being there, given that services are ever more limited,” he said in an interview with a local outlet, Il Messaggero.
Di Maio had warned of such veto blocks on Aug. 23, the day before the Brussels meeting, in another Facebook video, saying he’s prepared to take a hard line on EU payments should the Aug. 24 meeting fail.
“If tomorrow [Friday] nothing comes out of the European Commission meeting, if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti and the redistribution of the migrants, I and the whole Five Star Movement will no longer be prepared to give €20 billion euros [about $23.3 billion] to the European Union every year,” he said.
Italy alone cannot block the entire EU budget, and Bloomberg reports that should Italy retain monthly payments, it would be a violation of EU laws and could result in the EU taking legal action against Italy.
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