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Italy to propose European immigration rules revamp

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By Sallyann Nicholls
Italy to propose European immigration rules revamp
Copyright  REUTERS

Italy are drafting their own proposals to overhaul immigration and asylum rules in Europe, according to its Premier Giuseppe Conte.

Speaking to reporters alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace in Paris, he said the proposal would be presented during the Austrian presidency of the European Council next month.

"The Dublin Regulation must change," said Conte, referring to an EU law which dictates that refugee asylum claims should be handled by the first EU country they arrived in.

Macron invited Conte to the presidential residence on Friday to defuse tensions following a diplomatic spat between their governments.

Backtracking on harsh comments he made earlier this week, Macron said European solidarity towards Italy had not been "up to our expectations" in the wake of the latest migration row.

On Wednesday, the French President slammed Rome’s “cynicism and irresponsibility” after they turned away a boat carrying over 600 migrants from North Africa to Europe earlier this week, saying nearby Malta should take them in instead.

His comments irked Italy’s Deputy PM and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who demanded a formal apology from Paris, and the French ambassador in Rome was summoned.

But hours later, a remorseful Macron called Conte to apologise, saying he had “no intention to offend Italy or the Italian people”.

A statement released to the press continued: “Italy and France must deepen their European and bilateral co-operation to lead an effective migration policy with countries of origin and transit, better common European border management, and a European solidarity scheme in taking charge of refugees.”

Conte was quick to dismiss the spat on Thursday morning, telling the media that “the case is closed”.

The migrant rescue boat was eventually diverted to Spain, who wanted to avert a “human catastrophe”.