Ursula von der Leyen (L) and Giorgia Meloni on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on September, 17. 2023 (Photo by Reuters)
Italyís Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has warned that the "future of Europe is at stake" in the wake of a surge in the number of migrants and refugees arriving from the North African coast.
It is "the future that Europe wants for itself that is at stake here, because the future of Europe depends on Europeís capacity to face major challenges," Meloni said.
The Italian premier further said that problem could not be solved by Italy alone.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Meloni called for cooperation among all members of the European Union to settle the migration problem.
She made the remarks at a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
This comes after more than 8,000 migrants arrived on Italyís island of Lampedusa in recent days. Nearly 126,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, which is about double the number for the same period last year.
"Irregular immigration is a European challenge that needs a European response," Von der Leyen added, calling on other members of the bloc to take in some of the migrants.
The Italian Red Cross, which runs the overcrowded Lampedusa migration center, said 1,500 migrants remained there despite having a capacity for just 400.
Transfers of migrants to Sicily and the mainland have not kept up with the flow of new arrivals.
In July, Von der Leyen - with Meloniís strong backing - struck an agreement with Tunisia aimed at curbing the flow of irregular migration from the North African country.
The EU is pushing to overhaul rules on how to handle the migrant flow. In France, members of the far right say Paris should not allow any migrants from Lampedusa across the border from Italy.
More than 127,000 migrants have arrived on Italyís shores this year, almost double the same period last year.
Over 2,000 people have died this year crossing from North Africa to Italy and Malta, according to the UN migration agency.