Germany said Wednesday it has stopped taking in migrants from Italy under a European voluntary solidarity plan, in what could shape up to be a new standoff over asylum seekers in the bloc.
The voluntary scheme is aimed at easing pressure on EU border nations that are often the first port of call for migrants.
Under the mechanism, Germany was due to receive 3,500 asylum seekers who had first sought refuge in Italy. But only 1,700 have reached Germany before Berlin decided to pause the intake.
"Given the currently high migratory pressure on Germany, the ongoing suspension of Dublin transfers by some member states, including Italy, reinforces the major challenges Germany is currently facing in terms of its reception and accommodation capacity," said a spokesman for the interior ministry.
As a result, Berlin had informed Italy of its decision to "postpone until further notice" its intake of migrants.
Under the so-called Dublin procedure, irregular migrants should be registered in the EU country they first enter. Should they head to another nation in the bloc, they could be returned to their EU first port of call.
But Mediterranean countries like Italy have argued that the rules place an excessive burden on border nations, particularly since new arrivals often want to move on and live in other EU countries.
Germany took in over a million asylum seekers, mainly from Syria and Iraq, between 2015-2016 before the arrival numbers began falling sharply.
But over the last year, authorities have recorded a big uptick in arrivals again.
Latest numbers provided by federal police show 15,100 irregular migrants arriving in August, up 40 percent from July's 10,714.