Italy won’t adhere to EU budget as migrants leave ship

By BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK • Italy Prime Minister (PM) Giuseppe Conte said his government can’t adhere to European Union (EU) budget rules, while announcing that more than 100 migrants held for days aboard a coast-guard vessel at a Sicilian port will be allowed to disembark within hours.

Albania and Ireland will each take in 20 migrants from the ship, the Diciotti, while the Italian Bishops Conference will take 100, Conte’s office said in an emailed statement late on Saturday.

The announcement came shortly after Deputy PM and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini confirmed in a speech at a party event in Pinzolo, northern Italy, that he’s under formal investigation over the standoff involving the Diciotti, according to Ansa news agency.

“Italy doesn’t think it’s possible to adhere to an estimated budget underpinning a policy that it’s so incoherent from a social standpoint,” Conte said in the statement. “The spirit of solidarity is failing to translate in concrete acts.”

Officials from the populist Italian government formed this year clashed with the EU after Salvini initially said that none of the 177 migrants on the Diciotti, who were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on Aug 15, would be allowed to disembark until he had guarantees that other European countries would take most of them in.

The incident has become a social-media sensation, with duelling Twitter hashtags of “Catania Welcomes” and “I Stand With Salvini” being used widely.