Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday his party would vote to suspend funding to the European Union next year unless other states agreed to take in migrants being held on a coastguard ship in Sicily.
Three days after Italy’s Diciotti coastguard vessel docked in Catania, 150 adult migrants remained on deck. After seeing hundreds of thousands of sea arrivals in recent years, Italy wants other EU countries to accept them.
The European Commission has said repeatedly this week that it is working to find an agreement. Other such deals were found in June and July for ships carrying rescued migrants that docked in both Italy and Malta.
“If tomorrow nothing comes out of a European Commission meeting on redistributing migrants from the Diciotti ship, the 5-Star and I will not be willing to give 20 billion euros each year to the EU,” Di Maio said in a video posted on Facebook.
Di Maio is the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which is in a coalition government with the far-right League and its leader, Matteo Salvini, who has championed a hard line against immigration since taking office in June.
Di Maio said he agrees with Salvini’s position that the migrants should stay on the ship until there is an agreement in the EU, a day after the 5-Star speaker of the lower house of parliament criticized Salvini.