Interior Minister Matteo Salvini raged at the draft document prepared by the European Commission ahead of this weekend’s mini summit in Brussels tackling migration and threatened to boycott the event.
The Commission’s draft paper is giving heavy attention to secondary movement of immigrants, which sees asylum seekers move from the country they arrive at to seek resettlement elsewhere, an issue which is threatening Mrs Merkel political survival in Germany.
The Commission wrote: “It is crucial to further reduce illegal migration to Europe as well as secondary movements within the European Union.”
This draft was seen by Mr Salvini as a diktat imposed on Italy by France and Germany, ignoring the problems lamented by coastline countries.
He said: “If we go to Brussels to play the script already written by France and Germany, if they think to send us more migrants instead of helping us, then we shouldn’t even go. We save the money for the trip.”
Pointing out that Italy is a country as important as France and Germany for the contributions it pays into the EU and its efforts in tackling the migrant crisis, he added: “We want to be listened to, it’s not possible that the French and German dictate their rules while Italy pays and welcomes people.”
The snub has stirred the already delicate relations between Italy and the rest of Europe, and it may lead to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte boycotting the meeting.
Mr Salvini said: “Prime Minister Conte has all my support and the one of Italians.”
An Italian diplomat confirmed to Politico that Mr Conte is considering this possibility.
And a draft, prepared by Secretary-General Martin Selmayr also created a rift between the Commission and the EU Council.
Council officials had prepared their own plan for the meeting, but they were also snubbed by the Commission.
In their draft, the Council focused on the creation of new migrant processing centres called “disembarkation platforms” outside of EU territory.
One EU official said the draft “risks seriously complicating an already very difficult, delicate consensus-building process on migration.”
This weekend’s meeting was called by Mrs Merkel in a bid to find a preliminary agreement on new EU regulations on immigration to meet the demands of her interior minister, Horst Seehofer.
Mr Seehofer went on a collision course with the German Chancellor last week, when he asked to give police the power to turn away undocumented immigrants who arrive at the border from another country.
But Mrs Merkel refused, risking a walkout of Mr Seehofer’s party from the government coalition, a move which would leave her without a majority in the Bundestag.
On Monday she was granted time until the EU summit in June 28-29 to find a wide agreement with other EU countries.
Yesterday Bavaria’s CSU Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann warned if she didn’t manage to obtain stricter immigration rules from the EU, Mr Seehofer would implement his new policy from July 1.