Italian prime minister threatens 'Plan B that will wound Europe' allowing migrants to cross continent

The Italian government has issued the warning amid speculation that it may consider granting temporary residence permits to rescued migrants

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The Independent Online

Italy may be considering granting temporary residence permits to illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean that would allow them to travel between EU nations in the free-movement Schengen area.

The move comes after Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi threatened an unspecified “Plan B” if the EU did not show Italy more support in dealing with the number of migrants.

Mr Renzi said that the “crisis should not be underestimated,” in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“If the European Council chooses solidarity, then good. If it doesn’t we have a Plan B ready but that would be a wound inflicted on Europe,” he added.

So far, Italy claims it has borne the brunt of rescue operations in the Mediterranean as migrants have attempted to reach mainland Europe by boat. Around 170,000 made the journey in 2014, according to Eurostat.

Under the Schengen treaty, free cross-border movement is normally allowed within most of the EU, although France and other countries have increased controls on migrants from Italy, with growing numbers camping out at railway stations in Rome and Milan.

So far, over 57,000 migrants have entered Italy during 2015.

The tough stance has been added to by Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, who told Sky TG24 that “if Europe does not fulfil its own responsibilities and show solidarity, it will find a different Italy facing it”.

“I will say with great clarity: Kids, either we do equal distribution of migrants in Europe, or we organise refugee camps in Libya, or we organise a serious policy of repatriation,” he added.