France and Italy have spoken out in favor of creating a distribution mechanism for refugees in the EU. States that refuse to participate should be subject to financial sanctions, said French President Emmanuel Macron following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome.
Both countries wanted to have a "common position" on refugee policy in the future, Macron said: all Member States would have to "participate in one way or another" in receiving refugees or otherwise be financially punished. At the same time, Macon and Conte campaigned for a more efficient return of rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin at a joint press conference in Rome.
The visit of the French president was the first of a European leader since the new Italian government took over from the populist five-star movement and the Social Democrats. "This friendship is indestructible," Macron said about Italian-French relations.
Under the predecessor government of the Five-Star Movement and the right-wing Lega, the dispute over refugee policy had led to a crisis in relations between France and Italy: Macron accused the government in Rome of cynicism and irresponsibility because Italy kept its ports closed for rescue ships ,
Several EU Home Affairs ministers, including those from France, Germany and Italy, will meet in Malta next Monday to discuss the distribution of refugees within the EU.