The country should be responsible for accepting migrants on the ship of a non-governmental organization under whose flag the rescue organization’s ship sails, said Meloni in Malta. Italy’s demand follows a German amendment to a European asylum reform, which Rome sees as a “step backwards”.

The interior ministers of the EU member states discussed the approach to refugee policy and irregular migration to the EU behind closed doors in Brussels on Thursday. Germany paved the way for the so-called crisis regulation, which is considered the final building block of the European asylum reform.

The crisis regulation provides for significantly stricter measures if a particularly large number of migrants threaten to overload the asylum system. The EU wants to learn the lessons from the refugee movements in 2015.

However, Italy subsequently announced new reservations because of the concessions to Berlin. However, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said an agreement was expected. According to Italian media reports, interior ministers rejected the Italian amendment.

Rome accuses Berlin of funding several non-governmental organizations for sea rescue in the Mediterranean, some of which operate under the German flag. Meloni recently complained to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) about German funds for organizations that provide refugee aid in her country.

A ship belonging to the German organization Sea-Watch was anchored in the port of the island of Lampedusa, according to a count by the AFP news agency on Friday on websites that track ship traffic. Five other ships were on rescue missions off the Libyan and Tunisian coast.

At their meeting in Malta, representatives of nine European Mediterranean states called for a “sustainable and holistic European response” to combat illegal migration in a joint statement. In addition to Meloni, the heads of state from Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and the host country Malta also took part, as well as a representative from Spain.

Italy’s Prime Minister Meloni said she “definitely sees a will” to move forward together. “These beautiful ideas” must be translated “into concrete actions as quickly as possible.” The policy to speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants must be “managed at European level to be truly effective.”

Meloni also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the meeting. According to the French delegation, the focus was on implementing von der Leyen’s ten-point plan to support Italy, which was presented in the middle of the month.

The country has seen a significant increase in arriving refugees. According to the government in Rome, more than 133,000 migrants have come to Italy since the beginning of the year, almost twice as many as in the same period last year. Thousands of them were stranded on the already overcrowded Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. After bad weather conditions prevented crossings from the North African coast to Lampedusa in recent days, a boat carrying refugees reached the Italian Mediterranean island again on Friday.

According to the UN, more than 2,500 migrants have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. Between January 1st and September 24th, 2023, a total of 186,000 migrants arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta.