European Union Commissioner Guenther Oettinger warned Italy on Wednesday that it would face interest payments if it does not pay its budget contributions on time due to a row over migrant policy.
Reuters reports that last week, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio threatened to withhold next year’s EU contributions if partners did not agree to take in rescued immigrants who were being held on a ship in an Italian port.
Then on Monday, after only Ireland and Albania offered to help with the migrants, Di Maio said Italy would veto the EU’s seven-year budget plan if the bloc does not start to share the burden of seaborne migrant arrivals.
“One can only warn Rome not to entwine questions on migrant policy with the EU budget,” Oettinger, a German who serves as the bloc’s budget commissioner, told Die Welt daily.
“All European members are obliged to pay their contributions on time. Anything else would be a breach of the treaty which would trigger interest payments,” he told the paper.