Italy's deputy premier Luigi Di Maio on Wednesday slammed the European Union as "hypocritical" after its budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger warned the country would owe interest if it vetoed the bloc's next long-term budget plan due to a row over migrant policy.
"Our position is unchanged on the budget...the recent (EU) declarations are all the more hypocritical given that we did not hear a word (from the EU) during all those days of the Diciotti crisis," Di Maio said.
He was referring to a the diplomatic standoff that left 177 rescued migrants stranded aboard an Italian coastguard ship after hardline interior minister refused to allow them to come ashore unless other EU countries agreed to step in and take the migrants.
The only EU country that agreed to take any of the migrants aboard the Diciotti was Ireland. Albania and the Italian Catholic Church offered to take most of the others.
Earlier on Wednesday, Oettinger said Italy faced interest payments if it vetoed the EU's seven-year budget plan and did not pay its budget contributions in a bid to force the bloc to share the burden of migrant arrivals.
"All European members are obliged to pay their contributions on time. Anything else would be a breach of the treaty which would trigger interest payments," Oettinger told German daily Die Welt in an interview.