EU migrant crisis: Italy threatens to WITHHOLD €20bn from Brussels in migrant ship row

Just days after Italy’s Diciotti coast guard vessel docked in Catania on the weekend, 150 adult migrants remained on deck.

On Thursday, with no solution in sight, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said the coalition government, formed of the Five Star Movement (MS5) and La Lega, would vote to suspend funding to the EU next year.

They said they would do so if partners do not agree to take in migrants now being held on a coast guard ship in Sicily.

In a video posted on Facebook, Mr Di Maio said: “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 €20bn each year to the EU.”

On Friday, the migrant boat sent out a distress message when it entered international waters, as an argument over whether Malta or Italy should take in the 190 migrants rescued raged on.

Malta refused to come to the aid of the vessel which got into difficulties but insisted it followed international law.

The Italian coastguard vessel Diciotti picked up the ship close to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

But Diccioti continues to wait off the coast of Lampedusa as officials in both countries continue to argue over where it should dock.

The row is the latest in a string of clashes over Italy helping the EU handle the migrant crisis. .

In July, after refusing to take migrants in single handedly, Italy said it struck a deal with other EU member states such as France and Malta, to take in an “equal share” of African migrants who enter European waters in search of a better life.

More than 650,000 migrants have landed on Italian shores since 2014 Italy wants other EU countries to shoulder more of the burden of welcoming the decreasing numbers.

But the row over who should take responsibility for those rescued at sea is far from settled.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a staunch critic of EU migrant policy, has bid to stop humanitarian rescue ships operating out of Italy’s ports.

In June, Mr Salviini ordered the turning-away of the Aquarius rescue ship, which was carrying 630 migrants and was left stranded in the Mediterranean Sea for four days. has contacted the European Commission (EC) for comment.