We don't want money, we want dignity, was the reply of Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini to the European Commission proposal for EU member states be paid 6,000 Euro to accept and deal with each migrant saved at sea in the Mediterranean as they attempt to reach the European Union.
The EU’s executive said it wants to offer “full financial support” to any member state volunteering to set up so-called controlled centers where people in need of international protection and those who have no right to stay in the 28-nation bloc will be assessed.
The leaders of EU member states decided in a summit last month how to deal with the pressures of migration after they accommodated Italian demands for more help. EU member states will start discussing the matter on Thursday.
According to European rules, refugees applying for asylum must do so in the country where they are first registered — a situation that does not suit front-line countries such as Italy and Greece, where many migrants first land.
Brussels on Tuesday also offered to pay for the hundreds of staff members needed to manage centers where migrants and asylum seekers could be processed to avoid having them travel through Europe to secondary destinations.
But Italy quickly rebuffed the suggestion.
We aren’t asking for charity handouts. Every asylum-seeker costs the Italian taxpayer between 40,000 and 50,000 Euros, Salvini said after the offer was announced, ”Brussels, they can keep their charity for themselves.”
Jeff Rathke, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Europe program, said that “it's not really about the money for the Italians.”
“It's about their desire along with a few other like-minded E.U. member states to shift the debate and shift the paradigm of how Europe is dealing with migration,” Rathke said. “I think it's unlikely that a particular level of compensation is going to change the approach or perspective of this Italian government.”