23:07 GMT +317 December 2018
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi address a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 29, 2016.

    Italy Backs Down Over Money for EU-Turkey Migrants Deal

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    Italy may have backed down over its objections towards the US$3,3 billion deal European Union-Turkey deal but tensions with Brussels remain high.

    During a visit to Ghana, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi attacked what he described as an erosion of the founding principles of the European Union.

    According to Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, Renzi said:

    "We are at a time when Europe seems to be so far away from the values of our ancestors, of the founding fathers 60 years ago that signed a treaty to give birth to the European Community."

    Up until now, Italy had blocked the money for Turkey but according to media reports, Renzi earlier told reporters in Nigeria that:

    "At this point, we will give our contribution to Turkey to save human lives."

    The change in stance from the Italian premier comes after a decision by the EU's executive on February 1 to exempt EU members' contributions to the Turkey fund from their budget deficit calculations. 

    Under EU rules, members must stick to the spending rules set out in the Growth and Stability Pact. If they fail to adhere to the rules, they face disciplinary action from Brussels.

    EU leaders have agreed to send US$3.3 billion in aid to the Turkish government to help provide humanitarian assistance and tackle the refugee crisis in the country.

    Sweetening the deal, Brussels agreed to restart discussions on Turkey's membership of the European Union and lift visa restrictions for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU. In return, Turkey must make more efforts to stamp out people smuggling of migrants and tighten its borders.

    While Italy's economy continues to struggle, the country remains at the forefront of the crisis for being one of the first countries migrants enter when they reach Europe. Renzi told the Ghanaian parliament that the only way to solve the refugee crisis "is to stop the trafficking of human beings".


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    refugee crisis, deal, humanitarian crisis, aid, politics, migrants, European Union, Matteo Renzi, Italy, Europe, Turkey, Brussels
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