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Analysis. The centrists’ choice to compete with the likes of Orban, Le Pen, Salvini and Meloni on the playing field of racism and the diminishment of rights represents an incomprehensible gift to an anti-migrant culture that has become hegemonic even though it lacks any connection with reality.

The future of the EU is being constructed on an anti-migrant foundation

The surrender by the so-called large European political families to the xenophobic right-wingers, with the exception of some internal defections (among them, fortunately, the PD, which refused to vote for the European Pact on Migration and Asylum), is nothing short of a tragedy for the EU and could spell doom for its future.

On migration and asylum, the Populars, Socialists and Liberals, representing almost all of the majorities governing the EU countries and the majority of the current European Parliament, have decided to invest mainly in two directions: border externalization and administrative detention as the ordinary means of managing migration flows.

The letter addressed by 15 of the 27 governments to the European Commission to request additional measures beyond those in the Pact to promote the external dimension of migration policies – that is, to outsource our responsibilities towards human rights and international law to countries outside the EU – is proof that no matter how bad things get, they can always get worse. The choice to compete with the likes of Orban, Le Pen, Salvini and Meloni – that is, with conservatives and the far right – on the playing field of racism and the diminishment of rights, a choice made by those who claim they want to curb the latter’s tendencies, represents an incomprehensible gift to an anti-migrant culture that has become hegemonic even though it lacks any connection with reality.

Calling countries where torture is practiced and where the political opposition is regularly persecuted “safe” in the name of defending borders is the same thing as denying the basic principles of democracies.

Why should borders be “defended” from people who spontaneously present themselves before the authorities of EU countries to ask for protection? How would these people be able to cross borders legally and safely? We would like to ask these questions to our government and to the others who signed that letter, in full knowledge that no answers will be forthcoming, because reasons of propaganda don’t allow for rational explanations.

Meloni is right that in the current situation, our country has taken on “a leading role.” The initiatives promoted by Italy (while certainly not alone) have led to a snowball effect that is sweeping up the entire EU along with it. The agreement with Saied’s Tunisia is not new, but, like the one with Erdogan’s Turkey, it represents a denial of international law: we’ll make someone else do what domestic and international courts would stop us from doing.

The neo-colonial attempt to use Albanian territory to prevent those fleeing violence in Libya or persecution in Tunisia from landing in Italy is a novel notion which – beyond its exorbitant costs and dubious effectiveness, which we will soon be able to witness – represents above all a cultural rather than a political marker.

These measures enacted by Italy – like others put in place by other governments, such as those recalled in the letter by the 15 countries or included in the new European Pact – have an effect on public opinion in the EU that is proportional to the absence of equally strong alternatives, which pro-democratic forces don’t seem able to coalesce around supporting because they are incapable of coming up with a vision that is both just and practical. In the coming days, the European Commission will present the plan to implement the Pact that was finally approved on May 14 in each country; by January 2025, all individual governments will have to approve a national plan.

Civil society, movements and social organizations will have to make every effort to monitor this process, taking to the streets to advocate for a rights-based and welcoming Europe, turning to the courts to denounce and obstruct discriminatory and illegitimate measures, and building a broad alliance that would be able to bring forth a viable alternative.

In this process, the European elections are themselves a decisive step. While we hope for a setback for the right-wing forces, after June 9, no matter the outcome, it will be important to closely scrutinize the coherence of programs and candidate figures, doing the utmost to influence the choices that will be made at the national and European level at the start of the new legislature.

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