Brussels said it was ready to give Italy fresh financial support to deal with the crisis but said it had to give due warning of such a drastic step.
Rome issued the threat on Wednesday amid a swelling wave of people rescued from rickety boats on the central Mediterranean route from conflict-hit Libya.
“We support and we understand Italy’s concern and we support their call for a change in the situation,” European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud told reporters. “But what we’re also saying is that any change in policy should first be discussed with other member states, and also properly communicated to the NGOs who are running these boats so that they have time to prepare.”
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had met Italy’s representative to the European Union, Maurizio Massari, to discuss the issue, she added.
Several aid ships chartered by privately-funded organisations from France or Germany are taking part in efforts to rescue migrants from the Mediterranean.
Most of them disembark the migrants in Italy, and under EU rules the country where a migrant lands is responsible for dealing with their claim for asylum.
More than 10,000 people have been rescued from the sea off Libya since Sunday, while over 73,000 migrants have landed in Italy since January…