More migrants intercepted by Italy’s coast guard on the eve of a meeting of European Union interior and justice ministers in Luxembourg have added to the pressure on the bloc’s concepts of internal and external border control and solidarity.
The Italian Interior Minister, arriving for this Monday’s talks, did not appear optimistic about concerted political action.
Roberto Maroni said: “We are going to see if there really is a united Europe of solidarity, or if it is only expressed geographically.”
The German Interior Minister has sharply criticized Rome for giving some immigrants visas to continue their journeys to deeper within Europe.
Hans-Peter Friedrich said: “We can not accept the arrival of economic refugees in Europe, coming through Italy. We expect Rome to meet its legal obligations and to negotiate with the Tunisian authorities.”
Most of the migrants are from Tunisia. Many want to join family already in Europe.
Some EU states, notably France, Austria and Sweden, say travellers with temporary visas given by Italy will also need to show their passports and prove they can support themselves.
The row is over how the Schengen treaty governing border management in mainland Europe is implemented.
The Italian government said earlier this month that giving out the temporary permits would pressure partners who refused to collaborate.