Rome - Italy can accept migrant deportations from Germany, but only in small numbers, a junior minister at Rome's interior ministry said in a Monday interview.
Conditional deportation of refugees
On the weekend, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened to close the country's airports to charters coming in from Germany with deported migrants.
But under EU "Dublin" rules, Germany can send back to Italy only up to 50 migrants per month, Interior Ministry Undersecretary Nicola Molteni told Il Messaggero newspaper.
All that is happening, the Italian official said, is that the number of migrant deportations from Germany is increasing to the maximum level of 50 per month, from about 25 per month.
Molteni said the issue was being talked up in Germany because Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is facing elections in his home state of Bavaria on Sunday and needs to look tough on migration.
Reaching an agreement
"The idea of charter [flights] suggests that 40,000 people could be returned to us within a few months. Instead, nothing has changed in the agreements," he warned.
If there was a bilateral deal between Rome and Germany, the number of Deportations could be higher, but such an agreement "at the moment does not exist," Molteni added.
Seehofer and Salvini are right-wing politicians who share anti-immigration views, but they have failed to see eye-to-eye on migration burden-sharing.
Under the status quo, Germany can only expel migrants within six months of their arrival, and if it can prove that they first entered the EU via Italy, Molteni said.