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15 Jun, 2015 05:13

Italy threatens EU: 'Sort out migrant mess you caused or get hurt’

Rome has warned of retaliatory measures unless the EU changes its asylum policies to make them more in “solidarity” with Italy, which continues to struggle with an enormous inflow of mostly North African migrants.

“If the European Council chooses solidarity, then good. If it doesn’t, we have a Plan B ready but that would be a wound inflicted on Europe,” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, without elaborating on the details.

Italy which has been bearing the brunt of North African refugees is calling on Brussels to amend the Dublin regulations, which assign most asylum seekers to their port of entry in the EU. The states have yet to reach a consensus on a migrant distribution plan, which seeks to relocate some 24,000 refugees across the 28-member countries.

Under the proposal, redistribution would be based on a quota system taking into account the size of a country’s population, the state of its economy, and its unemployment level.

The crisis “should not be underestimated,” Renzi said in an interview with Milan’s Corriere della Sera daily. “Redistributing just 24,000 people is almost a provocation,” he said. Over 57,000 migrants have entered Italy during the first half of this year alone.

READ MORE: Dozens detained as French police forcefully evict migrant camp in Paris (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Most migrants come from Libya, where two rival governments are fighting for power after the fall of the Gaddafi regime – with the aid of a bombing campaign by European NATO powers. Renzi says the EU must take "responsibility in light of the intervention four years ago."

Rome wants the EU to come up with repatriation deals with African states as well as share the cost of returning illegals to their countries of origin.

“If Europe does not fulfill its own responsibilities and show solidarity, it will find a different Italy facing it,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano warned Sunday. “Europe, signing as Europe, has to sign repatriation agreements with all the African countries.”

“I will say with great clarity: Kids, either we do equal distribution of migrants in Europe, or we organize refugee camps in Libya, or we organize a serious policy of repatriation,” Alfano told Sky TG24.

The matter is being made worse by Italy’s neighbors, who are reluctant to allow or keep migrants on their turf. Despite the fact the Schengen treaty allows free cross-border movement, France, Austria and Switzerland have refused to allow migrants in, sending them back to Italy.

In the latest effort to accommodate those sent back, tents were set up with the help of the Italian Red Cross and local authorities to house around 100 migrants in a camp near Rome’s Tiburtina station.

Many of those camping out were prevented from entering France after French police blocked border crossings last week. Many have been stopped at the Austrian border near the town of Bolzano. Austrian police announced on Sunday that 24 African migrants arrested while trying to get to Germany by train will be returned to Italy. In Switzerland, border police announced that 240 migrants were sent back to Italy over the weekend.

“The halt to Schengen for a few days is holding them up here but Italy isn't their destination,” Renzi said.