Italy has reiterated its call on the European Union to slash its funding of eastern member states that refuse to receive asylum seekers in a bid to assist frontline countries, including Greece, in the refugee crisis.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in the parliament on Wednesday that the “positive aspects of belonging to the EU must be balanced by the duties that come with membership.”
He said the refusal of certain states in accepting refugees would place an added financial burden on frontline countries.
In February, Renzi criticized eastern EU member states for their lack of “solidarity” with frontline countries on the refugee influx, urging the EU to punish the countries for their unwillingness to receive refugees.
The European Union’s refugee-sharing quota plan, which calls for relocating 160,000 refugees across the bloc, has been, in practice, shattered to pieces. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, which are large recipients of the EU regional aid funds, are firmly balking at the relocation plan, particularly for refugees coming from Muslim countries of the Middle East, including Syria.
The countries have also clearly announced that they would not pay penalties, introduced by the EU, for not accepting refugees.
Hungary, the flag bearer in barring desperate refugees from stepping on its territory, has already built up a four-meter-high wall consisting of three rolls of razor wire along 523 kilometers of its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia. It is now planning a second stronger barrier as well as a larger force of “border hunters.”
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has clearly labeled the plan as “politically finished,” saying as long as he is the premier, “mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory.”
According to the European Commission, of 39,600 asylum seekers who were meant to be relocated from Italy under the plan, so far only 1,300 have been moved, which is far below expectations.
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, the country is currently home to 160,000 asylum seekers out of over 460,000 refugees who have arrived from North Africa since January 2014.
“It's necessary that Italy be the promoter of a very tough position toward those countries that have received a lot of money for belonging to the bloc to re-launch their territories, and who are shirking their commitments to relocate immigrants,” Renzi told the parliament, outlining his priorities for the EU's next summit meeting to be held on October 20-21 in Brussels, Belgium.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom fleeing conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Many put the blame on major European powers for the exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-wracked regions.
Over 302,400 refugees have stepped on Europe by sea since January, while some 166,600 others have died or gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, according to latest figures by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).