Prime minister Mark Rutte has called for European nations to settle their differences over the issue of migration and work to a common solution.
‘Among friends you should say sorry, I said this but I should have said that. That’s not how it works in politics, but if we meet and talk to each other it will clear the air,’ Rutte said on Sunday following an informal ‘mini-summit’ in Brussels to discuss the migration crisis.
It follows a heated exchange between Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini, who accused the French president of being arrogant and drinking too much champagne. Macron likened to the rise of populist governments in Italy and elsewhere to the spread of leprosy.
Italy also clashed with Spain two weeks ago after it refused permission for the Aquarius, a ship carrying 629 migrants, to land on its territory. The refugees were allowed to dock in Valencia and claim asylum in Spain.
Rutte proposed breaking up the migration issue so that groups of EU countries negotiate their own deals, rather than the EU as a whole trying to control the number and direction of migrants.
However, he refused to be drawn on a proposal by Spain and France to detain refugees in special holding camps. ‘That is far too specific. We’re nowhere near that stage of the discussion.’
The prime minister added that all the leaders who met in Brussels agreed that the traffic of boats across the Mediterranean needed to be halted. ‘Once that stops the pressure is off and we can talk in a more relaxed way about the other problems,’ Rutte said.
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