Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio confirmed Friday his intention to reduce Italy’s contribution to EU budget, in the absence of an agreement in Brussels on the fate of migrants blocked on an Italian vessel.
“The European Union decided once again to turn its back on Italy,’’ Mr. Di Maio writes on his Facebook page, adding that his country had no other choice than to “take a one-sided compensatory measure.’’ “We are prepared to reduce the funding we give to the European Union,’’ he added, underlining that Italy would no longer accept to be “humiliated.’’
Mr. Di Maio, leader of the Five-Star Movement (M5S, anti-system) is followed on this point by the other opinion leader of the government majority, deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, Head of the Ligue (extreme right).
“If Europe pretends not to understand, considering that we pay well, we will do what it takes to pay a bit less,’’ Mr. Salvini announced Friday evening as he was questioned on an Italian radio channel.
Mr. Di Maio had given the Europeans until Friday, the day of an informal meeting in Brussels on the migrant issue, before confirming his threat.
“They want the 20 billion paid by the Italian citizens? Let them prove they deserve it by taking hold of the issue that we can no longer face alone. The Italian borders are those of Europe,’’ Mr. Di Maio added.
The meeting held Friday in Brussels for high-level officials took place a week after the rescuing in the Mediterranean of 190 migrants, last 15 and 16 August, by the Diciotti, an Italian coast guards’ vessel. That boat is stowed since Monday evening in the Sicilian port of Catane with still around 150 migrants on board, the others, among whom thirty juveniles, having been authorized to land.
Mr. Salvini confirmed Friday evening that no-one else would be authorized to disembark as long as a European solution is not found.