France, Germany and the EU executive on Monday promised Italy more support in handling the influx of migrants arriving by boat from Africa.
They also agreed to bolster training and funding for Libya’s coastguard and to relocate asylum seekers more swiftly.
They made no direct reference to Rome’s appeal for European Union nations to ease the pressure by allowing rescue boats carrying migrants to dock in their ports.
Italy, Germany, and France’s interior ministers, as well as the EU’s migration commissioner, met in Paris on Sunday ahead of a wider meeting in Tallinn on Thursday.
In a joint statement that was thin on details, they also agreed to draw up a code of conduct for non-government organizations operating in the Mediterranean, to increase assistance for the International Organisation for Migration.
They also agree to lend greater support to a review of how to strengthen Libya’s southern borders.
“We are asking for the work to be shared,” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said at a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation conference in Rome shortly before the statement was released.
“This is necessary if … we are to avoid the situation in Italy becoming unsustainable and stoking hostility in a society which until now has responded in an exemplary way, with cohesion.”
Italy has taken in about 82,000 refugees and migrants so far this year, a third more than a year ago.
That makes Italy the main point of entry to Europe, a fact that is increasingly influencing domestic politics.
Voters dealt a blow to the ruling party in local elections im June, opting for right-wing groups promising a tougher line on immigration.
The European Commission has signaled readiness to give Italy more cash to help with increased arrivals, though officials and diplomats in Brussels have expressed scepticism that there will be any swift agreement for other EU states to take in the NGO boats.
They said the ports of Barcelona and Marseille were possible options.
The statement did not say how much extra money should be made available for the Libyan coastguard.
In the meantime, eighteen people are believed to have died when their tour bus crashed and burst into flames on the A9 motorway in southern Germany, police say.
The bus was in a collision with a lorry near Stammbach in north Bavaria.
Thirty people escaped the fire, two of whom are critically hurt. The bus was carrying German pensioners from Saxony.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said rescuers were delayed by “gawpers” driving slowly and by the intensity of the blaze.
It is not clear why the bus crashed – traffic was reportedly moving slowly at the time. Nor is it clear why flames engulfed the whole bus so quickly.
There were 46 passengers and two drivers on the bus. One driver was among those killed.
Forensic teams have recovered the charred remains of 11 people so far.
Five rescue helicopters joined emergency workers at the scene.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was distressed by the accident and expressed sympathy for the injured and bereaved relatives.
She thanked the rescuers for looking after people “in an appalling situation”.
A police spokesman told German news channel n-tv that there were good medical facilities in Bayreuth, not far from the scene.
Sourced from BBC