Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is perhaps a little irritated. The European Commission announced last Thursday it was opening an infringement procedure for failure to identify tens of thousands of refugees landing on Italian shores. Earlier this week, it demanded the Italians to get fingerprints by force if necessary, and now they’re even calling on Italy to facially identify incoming refugees and migrants.
Brussels’ micromanagement is burning Renzi like a hot iron. He went before Parliament yesterday and called the accusations unjustified and unfair. “It’s astonishing that someone in Europe has decided to open an infringement procedure,” he told Parliament yesterday, “because everyone we saved was identified with fingerprints.”
He was expected to repeat that line at speeches scheduled at the European Council today and tomorrow. Renzi is also going on the offensive, blaming Europe — and Germany in particular — for slow implementation of resettlement and repatriation.
“Not all people who arrived in Germany in August were identified, and then Merkel said solidarity is first before bureaucracy,” Renzi said. “But what is true for Germany does not apply to Italy. We do not reply but ask: What is your beloved Europe’s role, to state bureaucratic guidelines or to solve problems?”
Since August, much has changed, however. The attacks in Paris led the E.U. to begin identifying its own citizens coming in and out and to press Italy and Greece to speed up the opening of reception centers for refugees and migrants, so-called “hotspots.” But Renzi has done his homework; he has an answer for that too, telling Parliament yesterday: “Italy opened the first hotspot, [today] we will open another in Trapani, then in Pozzallo. We are ready to step in and live up to our commitments. We will ask the Europeans if they are able to live up to their commitments.”
The European Council today is expected to give the green light to the establishment of a coast guard and European border patrol, authorized to act in case of emergencies without permission from the country involved. This has stirred considerable resistance among some member countries who insist on managing their own border security. Renzi is supposedly going to offer a new proposal to maintain the Schengen Area, which lately is dangerously at risk.
The Brussels summit will be preceded by a meeting today among small countries most affected by the migrant crisis (Italy was not invited), during which the will also discuss how, after an agreement signed with Ankara, to cooperate with Turkey to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Europe. Yesterday, Turkey was the scene of yet another massacre of children: The bodies of six child refugees, aged between 2 and 6, washed ashore near Cesme.