“I want to propose a new pact for migration and asylum because I think we need a new and fresh view… on migration,” Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference after talks with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (both seen in photo below).
“We know that migration will not go away, it is inherent in a globalized world. What we do need are procedures the are effective and humane at the same time,” she said.
Rome has long called for a revision of Europe's so-called Dublin asylum rules, which stipulate that the country of first arrival must process asylum seekers.
It wants other EU countries to take in their fair share of the arrivals and process their applications so as to spread the burden.
Von der Leyen, who will take office in November, acknowledged that Italy, Spain and Greece were “geographically exposed” and said the EU must show greater solidarity.
“We need to adapt the Dublin rules to manage migration flows more efficiently,” Conte said.
“We cannot think the problem is just for those countries where migrants first land,” he insisted.
Italy's populist government has closed the ports to charity ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, forbidding them to enter the country's territorial waters and leaving people blocked at sea for long periods.
Migrants have only been allowed to land after deals made on a case-by-case basis for European governments to host them.
But deep divisions within the European Union over taking in asylum seekers have so far stymied attempts to reform the rules.