The European Commission said on Friday it will follow rules governing migration, rather than bow to threats, such as made by an Italian minister to distribute migrants held on a coast guard ship in Sicily.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy will take a "hard line" to withhold EU funds at a meeting with the Commission and envoys from a dozen member states in Brussels to discuss disembarkation from the ship Diciotti.
"Finding a solution for the people on board is our main priority. That is what we are focused on and that is what we think everybody else should be focused on," Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told a news conference.
"Let's not engage in finger-pointing. We also believe unconstructive comments, let alone threats, are not helpful and will not get us any closer to a solution. The European Union is a community of rules and it operates on the basis of rules, not threats," he continued.