Speaking after a meeting of EU defence ministers in Vienna, Matteo Salvini, interior minister and leader of the far-right Lega party, claimed Rome was “assessing” whether to continue the EU’s Sophia mission, which currently lands all rescued migrants in Italian ports.

Italian Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta expressed her disappointment on Thursday after no agreement was reached on changing port of landing rules.

She said: “I feel disappointed because I’ve seen that Europe is not here but I’m confident.

“We will assess what to do.”

When asked whether Italy would pull out of the mission, Ms Trenta said: “All decisions will be taken with the government and Premier Giuseppe Conte.”

Federica Mogherini, EU’s foreign affairs chief, said there has been “no consensus on practical solutions” on the mission proposed changes.

Mrs Mogherini, who is Italian, added she hopes to achieve something more concrete in the next following weeks.

She noted: “It is not and will not be am easy exercise but it is a duty, because in these last few years we have proved that the EU can make a difference in the Mediterranean.”

This comes as Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini promised the country to clamp down on illegal immigration by closing the country’s harbours to boats carrying migrants.

His decision first sparked a row between the European Union and the Italian government in June, when Mr Salvini left stranded at sea for five days 630 people, including pregnant women and children.

The die-hard eurosceptic leader has often criticised the Brussels bloc for its lack of support.

Last week he claimed Italy should start making cuts to annual funds sent to the European Union after the latest migrant rescue boat docked in the Sicilian port of Catania.

He told supporters in Pinzolo: “Europe has demonstrated once again to be unprecedented filth that doesn’t deserve our money.

“From the first to the last one of them, no one cared.

“And I ask for your mandate to re-discuss the billions Italy sends to Brussels every year.

“I think the time has come to make some cuts to funds given to a useless institution that turns its back when we most need it.”


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