By Stefania Fumo
ROME, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The Italian, French and German heads of government held a meeting on migration Wednesday in Italy's northeastern city of Trieste.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni invited French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the talks on board an Italian Navy schooner anchored in Trieste's port.
On the mainland, a summit on integration between the European Union and six Western Balkan countries was underway.
Gentiloni was seeking consensus over a joint European migration policy, as Italy currently bears most of the burden of rescuing, processing, and hosting thousands of men, women and children who try to cross the Mediterranean on unseaworthy boats run by human traffickers.
"We need a common European migration policy," Gentiloni told reporters at a joint press conference after the meeting with Macron and Merkel.
"Italy is fighting for migration policy to no longer be the task of some countries only, but for it to become shared by the European Union as a whole."
The Italian chief said the EU should work together to invest in Africa, where millions of people are on the brink of famine.
He also called for the EU to work together on stabilizing Libya, where most of the human traffickers' boats depart from, and for "joint efforts to guide the activities of non-governmental organizations" who rescue people from vessels in distress in the Mediterranean.
Merkel agreed on the need for cooperation with migrant countries of origin and with Libya.
"The three of us agreed we must fight illegal immigration, so therefore our cooperation with Niger and other African countries is particularly important," Merkel said.
"We would like to stabilize the political situation in Libya and to work with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) so that people in Libya can be treated with dignity," the German chancellor said.
She added that the EU must help "improve the economic outlook" of African countries "so that this trade in humans -- there is no other word for it -- can be dealt with".
For his part, Macron admitted that "France has not always pulled its weight on refugees".
"We are speeding up (asylum) procedures and we will continue to do so for every person identified as a refugee," Macron said.
However, he said, there is a difference between asylum seekers and economic migrants. "I will not give in to the dominant spirit of confusion (between the two)," Macron said.
"It is our humanitarian duty to welcome people whose lives are at risk in their own countries," he explained. "But we cannot accept men and women who try to come and live in our countries for economic reasons."
Macron said that in his view, the migration crisis requires a combination of "humanitarianism and efficiency". Efficiency means "speeding up development policies to halt economic migrations", Macron said.
It also means coordinated action against the traffickers of "arms, drugs, and humans" who "exploit misery and weaknesses and collude with terrorists", the French president said.