The European Union stands ready to beef up its border surveillance mission in the Mediterranean if Italy requests and is supplying 13.7 million euros ($15.6 million) to help Rome cope with the migrant influx.

The EU's top migration official, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said Thursday that "we are ready to respond constructively if Italy identifies the need to step up Operation Triton."

Avramopoulos also announced that the border surveillance mission Triton operating in the Mediterranean Sea would be extended until at least the end of 2015.

The mission was launched in November as Italy deals with growing numbers of would-be migrants headed mostly for its southern island of Lampedusa.