AN ambitious EU plan to share out asylum seekers across Europe was in tatters yesterday with Italy, the migrants’ main point of entry, accusing its partners of betrayal.
France led a series of European countries declaring they would refuse to accommodate more migrants escaping war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, prompting an angry outburst from Italy’s Foreign Minister.
“It would be very bitter if there was a U-turn in the availability to share, to turn the problem from an Italian problem into a European problem,” Paolo Gentiloni said.
He added: “There is no turning back at this point. Otherwise Europe would not be living up to its own standards.”
After about 750 migrants perished at sea last month as they tried to reach Italy from Libya, European leaders pledged to help to rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, while the EU drew up quotas to resettle 20,000 asylum seekers around the continent. Nearly 40,000 have landed in Italy this year, a 10 per cent rise on this time last year.
First Britain used its EU opt-out clause to duck out of the quotas. Then French Prime Minister Manuel Valls opted out of the plan…