Francken will not be intimidated by Di Maio: "Belgium will not take in illegal immigrants anymore"

Belgium will not receive illegal immigrants coming from Northern Africa on boats. This was confirmed by Asylum Secretary Theo Francken after Italy's deputy PM Luigi Di Maio had uttered a threat.

Di Maio, who belongs to the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, said that his party will block Italy's annual European contribution worth 20 billion euros if the refugees arriving in Italian ports can't be sent to countries across Europe. He was speaking after a latest concrete case developed, as some 150 refugees are stuck on a ship in Catania (Sicily), waiting to get off to receive proper accommodation. Di Maio uttered his threat in a video message on Facebook. 

The Belgian response is negative. Theo Francken (N-VA) stuck to his guns yesterday. "We will not receive illegal immigrants from boats leaving North Africa", he repeated. "This has no sense." Francken referred to a statement he made a couple of weeks ago. Belgium helped out on that occasion, receiving some illegal immigrants from a ship roaming the Mediterranean. "But I said it would a one-off effort at that moment. It stops here", he told the VRT news programme Terzake.

Meanwhile, the European Union had repeated that they are working on a large deal, that should stop countries from bickering.