September 4, 2015 / 9:56 AM / 2 years ago

Italy foreign minister pushes EU to rewrite asylum rules

CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) - Europe has to rewrite its asylum rules if it is to preserve freedom of movement as the continent struggles to handle hundreds of thousands of migrant arrivals, Italy's foreign minister said on Friday.

The Dublin Regulation on asylum requires people seeking refuge in Europe to do so in the first country where they set foot, putting pressure on countries such as Italy, where many arrive by sea, and Hungary, which is on a common land route.

Speaking at a business conference in Cernobbio, northern Italy, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the asylum rules should change to preserve Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.

"If we don't renegotiate the Dublin rules, first of all the fact that one enters Europe and not a specific country, we'll end up having to renegotiate Schengen and free movement rules, which would be a defeat for Europe's politicians."

More than 300,000 people have arrived on the shores of Greece and Italy so far this year and more than 140,000 have been registered entering Hungary. European officials are now pushing to relocate many of them.

How the bloc deals with the crisis will be a "defining moment" in its history, U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

Reporting by Valentina Za and Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Alison Williams

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