In regards to immigration, Italy leaves the G7 meeting at Taormina even more lonely, and Europe’s divisions were only strengthened.
Beyond the words of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who on Saturday in the final press conference of the summit settled the matter as “a point closed for weeks, which was not debated,” the reality is that the Italian expectations of a more international involvement for dealing with the incoming flows from Africa have been disappointed.
The final communique included generic commitments to defend the rights of the most vulnerable migrants — the same commitment often used at various summits, especially European ones, which only justify new anti-immigration enforcement actions. But Donald Trump has gone further, reducing the plight of those fleeing from war and poverty to purely a safety issue, defending the right of each state to limit reception and defend its borders. It reinforces those in Europe who have been propagating the same buzzwords for a long time, particularly the countries of the Visegrad group. So, the European line might well soon copy the American one.
Italy is likely to pay more than any others for this failure. For some time, Rome has been pushing the European Union to accept more responsibility in the joint management of migrants departing from Libya. It tried in November 2015 during an E.U.-African countries meeting in Valletta and the creation of a fund for the financing of development projects in countries of origin and transit of migrants. The results weren’t great.
In the meantime, the Balkan route was closed, thanks to the 2016 agreement with Turkey. So, the central Mediterranean route is the only viable option for those trying to reach Europe. To try to stop them, the European Commission designed a migration compact in May proposed by Matteo Renzi, and €60 billion in investments were promised.
In February this year, a new Malta summit marked the turning point, preferring development projects (whose results, if there are any, will only be seen after years). It was decided to invest directly in Libya to stop the flow. Too bad those who would implement it, the government of Prime Minister Serraj, is unable to control the country to the extent that the Gentiloni government decided to initiate a deal with the Fezzan tribes, which control the south of the north African country, and with the governments of Chad and Niger. They were promised money and resources to stop migrants and imprison them in camps near the border.
Since there is no political will to open legal channels for migrants, the only solution to the ongoing tragedies in the Mediterranean, Rome and Brussels seem to rely on a policy built on a series of political announcements. Like the agreement with Mali for the repatriation of illegal migrants, announced by Brussels late last year and denied by Bamako in January this year.
The results of these policies can be seen every day in the Sicilian ports. And after the summit in Taormina, Italy is as lonely as it was before in light of the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which penalizes the countries of first entry, a bill on which Brussels has been working for some time.
It is no coincidence that the NGOs warn about the possible consequences of these policies, since these organizations are engaged every day in avoiding new tragedies in the Mediterranean. As Doctors Without Borders announced Saturday: “The failure of the G7 summit in Taormina will only cause more suffering, raise the number of dead at sea, perpetuate the terrible reception conditions for migrants and refugees, as well as justify inhuman agreements that outsource the management of migration to insecure countries.”
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.