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Italian PM calls for EU solidarity on migration

AFP  |  Brussels 

Italian Giuseppe has urged European lawmakers to show a united front on migration, with the issue set to dominate the run-up to European elections in May.

Conte's speech mixed pro-bloc rhetoric with some criticism as he faced an often hostile audience at the in

"The European project seems to have lost some of its momentum," said Conte, who heads a populist coalition government, regretting what he perceived as passivity in the face of economic crisis.

"Politics, if it is only at the service of the economy, misses its mark," the Italian head of said in charging that the EU had "lost contact with the people" and was "incapable of understanding (their) true needs."

With as a first point of entry to for tens of thousands of migrants in recent years, noted immigration was a bone of contention for voters on a continent seized by rising populism.

"We cannot go on" dealing with migrant flows via a series of emergency measures, insisted.

He said the bloc required instead "a structural approach for a stable and efficient solution," including a mechanism forcing EU states to share out the burden.

Manfred Weber, of the centre right grouping, responded by stating the assembly backed a fairer and more effective asylum policy that would provide greater solidarity and end the requirement to apply for asylum only in the first EU country reached.

However, fellow German Udo Bullmann, of the and Democrats grouping, blasted what he termed Italian "cynicism" in refusing to take in NGO migrant rescue boats at its ports.

That policy has earned trenchant criticism and Conte drew more of the same over his country's spending plans and high public deficit, which led to a standoff with last year prior to the policy being watered down.

"suffered badly from austerity," said Belgian Green lawmaker Philippe Lamberts, but "rather than seek to form alliances ... your chose confrontations which were theatrical and sterile," he chided Conte.

Conte meanwhile defended a recent meeting in between and French anti-"yellow vest" protestors which caused a rumpus between and Paris, saying the visit was made merely as a "

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 05:40 IST