ROME, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Migration was a key focus of talks between Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and European Council President Charles Michel here on Monday. The leaders discussed key areas where Brussels and Rome are at odds, issues likely to be on the agenda at the upcoming Special European Council meeting.
Michel had traveled to Rome in preparation for the meeting on Feb. 9-10 in Brussels.
Addressing the media after closed-door talks with Michel, Meloni said current rules on migration, an area where Italy has sought stronger restrictions than those of the European Union (EU) as a whole, gave too much responsibility to countries where refugees first land in Europe.
Italy is one such country, along with Greece and Spain.
"It is not in anyone's interest for countries to have a rift over an issue like migration," Meloni said. "Doing so would be the same as giving a gift to those who traffic human beings."
She added: "The European Union can and must intervene, starting from a defense of its external borders. Italy cannot manage the problem on its own."
The summit would take place at a pivotal time, Michel said. Discussions will be held on the challenge of securing adequate energy amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the growing problem of long-term food security, and the issue of European competitiveness amid "the massive state aid plan that the United States is implementing" to help bolster its economy.
"The choices we make at the next European Council meeting will be decisive over the next ten years," Michel said.
While in Rome, Michel also met with leaders and senior officials of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program to discuss food security. ■