Italy presents overhaul plan at mini-summit — European Union migrant crisis

Lifeline said a merchant vessel, the Alexander Maersk, had another 113 migrants and was also waiting for a port to receive them.

New arrivals of migrants and asylum-seekers coming to Europe via the Mediterranean have dropped by more than half this year compared with the same period in 2017, according to the United Nations migration agency: 40,944 people as of Wednesday.

She opposes the idea by the CSU, which will face the anti-immigration AfD party in Bavarian elections in October, because it would mean rigid border controls inside what is normally the EU's coveted control-free travel zone. The centers would be created in accordance with guidelines from the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, Macron said. He mentioned Libya - the main jumping off point for countries bound for Europe - other African countries and the Balkans.

And Italy's new Government has unveiled a sweeping set of anti-immigration proposals that would more quickly send migrants back out of Europe.

The prime ministers of Denmark, Belgium and Luxembourg also backed the idea of outsourcing the effort to tame migration, although they emphasised the need to respect global law.

It's also unclear how much the effort would cost, but the EU-Turkey deal has so far cost more than $3.5 billion.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has led by example on how to approach the refugee crisis in Europe.

But she said the Italian coastguard had told the group they "weren't needed" and "the operation was being handled by the Libyan coastguard".

"That is why it is also about bilateral or trilateral agreements for mutual benefit", she added. At the summit Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte supported France's suggestion to issue sanctions against countries rejecting their quotas of immigrants.

Under the EU's so-called Dublin rules, asylum-seekers must be processed in the country where they first arrive, usually Italy, Greece and Spain.

The talks were "frank and open", but "we don't have any concrete consequences or conclusions", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

In answer to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration flows towards Europe had reduced compared with a few years ago, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Macron's words showed he was out of touch.

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Then the plan would have to overcome likely court challenges - and still win approval from Congress , the Hill reported . If the measure is approved by voters, it would have to be ratified by Congress , which analysts say is unlikely.

His appeal came as migration tensions surged on the Mediterranean itself.

Migrants on an inflatable boat being rescued before boarding the "Lifeline" sea rescue boat at sea on 21 June, 2018.

Italy's defense minister, Elisabetta Trenta, later clarified the coast guard's position.

Rome has started turning away ships with migrants rescued at sea, saying it should not be the sole European Union entry point.

Tensions between Italy and Malta also flared, with both European Union nations refusing to let a German rescue ship, the Lifeline, with more than 200 migrants and refugees aboard dock at their ports.

They had received food and water from Malta, and medical supplies and blankets provided by two other German rescue ships, the Sea-Eye and Sea-Watch, said Mission Lifeline spokesman Axel Steier.

Sunday, June 24, in Brussels will host an informal summit of several European Union countries, dedicated to solving the problem of refugees.

Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat sought to lower the rhetoric as he arrived on Sunday in Brussels, saying now was not the time for a "blame game".

"Right now more than 1,000 people adrift in seven boats and Italy intends to leave them in the hands of Libya, where people are tortured, raped and enslaved", she said on Twitter.

As with everything linked to migration in Europe, even the meeting in Brussels did not please everybody.

The leaders of the Visegrad group countries, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, announced on Thursday they would be boycotting Sunday's summit altogether.

  • Sonia Alvarado