ITALY CRISIS: Berlusconi warns Brussels faces ‘SOCIAL BOMB’ as anti-EU rebellion grows

is currently bound to carry out the bureaucratic process aimed at establishing if migrants are allowed to stay in the country or whether they should return to their country of origin.

Mr Berlusconi said the large number of arrivals on Italian coasts warrants for a change in the Dublin III regulations currently forcing Italy to bear the costs of the process.

He said: “Immigration is an extremely urgent issue. In Italy, we have 630,000 migrants, five percent of which has the actual right to remain because they are refugees.

“A strong Government should demand the come forth with all its political and economic weight to help.”

Mr Berlusconi is currently barred from holding public office following a tax scandal, but his coalition stands the strongest chance of winning as the largest party – and immigration is proving a hot potato following a big increase in illegal immigrants arriving from the North African coast.

Speaking to Italian TG5, he suggested the European Union should seek to create “treaties with North African countries to stop migrants from boarding boats on their coasts” to avoid triggering a “social bomb” shaking the foundations of the institution.

The former PM added the best solution would be to create a “Marshal Plan-like” strategy to provide support to the countries of origin to reduce arrivals.

The Marshall Plan was an economic aid programme created by the United States in the aftermath of World War 2 to help war-torn countries recover.

Mr Berlusconi expressed severe criticism of the European Union in the past because of its immigration policy and the effects it had on Italy.

In early 2017 he said: “No country in the world can handle such large immigration. European economies do not have the capacity to offer jobs to all those who arrive.

“Europe must establish a Marshall Plan-like strategy for the countries involved. Only this can help stop this mass immigration currently overtaking Europe.”

The will be held on March 4 and opinion polls yesterday put Mr Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition on target for a win but falling just short of an outright majority.