Italy, one of the first entry points for asylum-seekers arriving in Europe, has been seeking to revise the Dublin Regulation, which allows for refugees to be sent back to the country where they first entered the EU.
Berlin has rejected a recent report by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that a German refugee agency had allegedly sent «dozens of letters» to migrants advising them of a planned transfer back to Italy, possibly via charter flights. The first such flight is scheduled for October 9, according to La Repubblica.
A German Interior Ministry spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that «no transfer flight is planned to Italy in the coming days.»
His remarks came after Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini pledged to close Italian airports to any aircraft with migrants from Germany or any other EU country on board.
«If someone, in Berlin or Brussels, thinks of dumping dozens of immigrants in Italy via unauthorized charter flights, they should know that there is not and there will be no airport available. We will close the airports as we closed the ports,» Salvini pointed out.
Earlier, he warned that Rome would not sign the recently-announced migrant redistribution deal with Germany until Italy’s demands for amendments to the EU’s Dublin Regulation are fully fulfilled.
He spoke as Italy is trying to revise the document, which stipulates that migrants should be sent back to the country where they first entered the continent. Rome claims that the regulation is inadequate for managing migration flows and calls for a fairer migrant resettlement system.
In another development, Salvini praised the Italian government voting unanimously for a legislation that will tighten immigration rules and which he said will be «a step forward toward making Italy safer.»
The legislation extends the period of detention of illegal immigrants to 180 days and sets more strict rules for «humanitarian» asylum, limiting this status to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, work exploitation, natural disasters and to those in need of urgent medical care.
Italy’s new coalition government is pursuing a hardline policy on immigration, as Europe is struggling to negotiate refugee quotas and a common European framework to share responsibility for immigrant arrivals.
In early June, Salvini said that Italy could not remain Europe’s «refugee camp» while neighboring countries close their borders and defend their borders with weapons.