22:40 GMT +323 September 2018
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    Matteo Salvini gives his speech during the traditional League party rally in Pontida, northern Italy, Sunday, July 1, 2018

    'League of Leagues in Europe': Salvini Proposes Pan-EU Anti-Migrant Movement

    © AP Photo / Luca Bruno
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    The interior minister told supporters that he wants to take his party's success at the recent Italian elections internationally.

    "I think of a league of Leagues in Europe, which unites all the free movements that want to defend their borders and the wellbeing of their children," Salvini said, speaking at a Lega (League) party conference in Pontida, Italy, on Sunday.

    "To win we had to unite Italy, now we will have to unite Europe," the deputy prime minister added, stressing that his party had secured its place as the "most populist party" on the continent. 

    "The term is a compliment to me," Salvini said, speaking to journalists earlier. "I will tour capital cities, and not just European ones, to create an alternative to this Europe founded on exploitation … and mass immigration," he promised

    The Lega leader also promised to turn the 2019 European Parliament election into a "referendum on the elite, the banks, finance, immigration and job security." It will be a vote on "a Europe without borders … and a Europe that protects its citizens," he said.

    The right-wing Lega party had reached a coalition deal with the big-tent Five Star Movement on June 1 following months of negotiations after the elections in March.

    Also on Sunday, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party pushed for a stricter immigration policy at its own party congress, promoting a new "Fortress Europe" refugee policy, and naming Salvini, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor ORban as possible allies.

    European leaders reached an agreement on the immigration crisis Friday, promising to enhance the screening of migrants for asylum eligibility, and to set up "disembarkation platforms" in North Africa to discourage human smuggling. The EU plan also calls for processing camps to restrict movement across EU borders. The Italian leaders said they were "satisfied" by EU commitments to help Rome manage waves of immigrants coming across the Mediterranean. Salvini said he was "pleased and proud of the results."

    Italy is refusing to allow refugee rescue ships to enter into its ports. On Friday, Salvini promised that the restrictions would last "all summer."

    Italy has been one of the countries hit hardest by the wave of migrants and refugees coming to Europe across the Mediterranean from North Africa, with over 600,000 people entering the country since 2014.

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    refugees, immigration, Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, Italy, Europe
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