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How would Italy’s idea for a new EU migrant distribution system work?

Italy's new government is pushing for an automatic system for distributing migrants rescued in the Mediterranean between European countries.

How would Italy's idea for a new EU migrant distribution system work?
Migrants rescued while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in January 2019. Photo: Federico Scoppa/AFP

The plans already have the green light from France and Germany, which would take a much higher percantage of migrants than Italy, Italian media said Thursday.

READ ALSO: How will Italy's new government approach immigration?

The plan could also involve Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain, La Repubblica and La Stampa dailies said.

Such a deal would put an end to case-by-case negotiations over who will take those saved during the perilous crossing from North Africa, which have left vulnerable asylum seekers trapped in limbo at sea for lengthy periods.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to discuss the plan with France's President Emmanuel Macron when the latter visits Rome next week.

It will then be studied in more detail at a meeting of interior ministers on September 23 in Malta, ahead of a European summit in October in Luxembourg.

“There is great willingness to immediately reach even a temporary accord on the redistribution of migrants, which can then be fine tuned,” Conte said Wednesday during a visit to Brussels to meet European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

READ ALSO: 

He suggested EU countries that decline to take part could suffer financial penalties.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have refused in the past to take in any of those rescued at sea.

The automatic distribution system would be a temporary solution ahead of a revision of the so-called “Dublin regulation”, which assigns responsibility for migrants to the nation of first entry.

France and Germany were each willing to receive 25 percent of people plucked from flimsy dinghies in the Mediterranean, Repubblica said.

Italy would take in 10 percent – a lower proportion because it has already hosted tens of thousands of new arrivals, it said.

Should the deal take off, Rome would agree to reopen its ports to vessels which save migrants at sea, reversing a hardline stance taken by the country's ex-interior minister Matteo Salvini last year.

Under the new laws, ships that enter Italian waters without authorization face a fine of up to €1 million. The ships can also be seized.

'I migrate, you migrate, he migrates…' Protesters against another of Matteo Salvini's security decrees last year. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Member comments

  1. As long as migrants are allowed to land, there will never be an ending to this inflow of immigrants. The left cast the nationalist as racists who are responsible for deaths at sea, yet it is the very accusers who, by non-enforcement of immigration laws encourage continued attempts by these people to cross the sea. How many are too many is the question? Where do you stop and how long will it take for these immigrants to overwhelm the societies in which they wish to live? Mostly illiterate, many criminal and by and large very few who care at all for the culture of the host country or to assimilate. This is supposed to be the future of Europe? If so, it will be a future wrought with conflict, excessive taxation, tribal conflicts, and higher crime. A better solution is to stop the immigrants at their border, provide incentives to their governments, ban ALL weapon sales by European nations to corrupt regimes and the corrupt UN/EU should act swiftly and decisively to thwart totalitarian regimes. Ah, yes, but that would be counter to the whims of the German industrialists, bankers and defense contractors.

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

ANALYSIS: Italy’s hard right set to clash with EU allies over Russia

Italian election winner Giorgia Meloni may at first glance have much in common with ultra-conservative governments in fellow EU nations Poland and Hungary, but experts say that when it comes to real-world policy any alliance could soon run into limits.

ANALYSIS: Italy's hard right set to clash with EU allies over Russia

Reaction to Sunday’s strong result for Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was muted from pillars of EU integration like Paris and Berlin, but Warsaw and Budapest were warm in their congratulations.

“We’ve never had greater need of friends sharing a vision of and a common approach to Europe,” the Hungarian government said, while from Poland came praise for Meloni’s “great victory”.

“Hungary and Poland are more than happy with this election, first because it relieves the pressure on their own countries in the EU, and second because it paves the way for a more united front,” said Yordan Bozhilov, director of the Bulgaria-based Sofia Security Forum think-tank.

READ ALSO: Polish PM hails far-right’s ‘great victory’ in Italian elections

The Italian election follows hard on the heels of a Swedish poll that also produced a surge for the extreme right.

But with the far right in power in one of the EU’s largest countries and founding members, Hungary and Poland could be far less isolated in their battles with Brussels over rule-of-law issues.

What’s more, Rome, Budapest and Warsaw are now set for alignment on social concerns, with anti-Islam, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT positions.

“Together we will defeat the cynical and pampered Eurocrats who are destroying the European Union, breaching treaties, destroying our civilisation and advancing the LGBT agenda!” Poland’s deputy agriculture minister Janusz Kowalski tweeted in a message congratulating Meloni on Monday.

Meloni also shares her prospective allies’ vision of a Christian, white Europe made up of sovereign nations.

EXPLAINED: What’s behind election success for Italy’s far right?

“Hungary and Poland are countries that want to change the EU from within, and they don’t hide it. So far they haven’t succeeded, but there will definitely be an attempt to create a Rome-Budapest-Warsaw axis,” said Tara Varma, director of the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

But such parties’ demands have already moderated in recent years from full exit from the EU, “given the absolute cautionary tale that Brexit has been,” she added.

Instead, the axis could become “spoilers, the sand in the gears” in Brussels.

“One step forward, two steps back, they could prevent the EU making progress while continuing to benefit from joint funds,” Varma said.

– Splits over Russia –

 A front based on values could still founder when faced with today’s overriding concern of the war in Ukraine and EU relations with Russia.

While Meloni has so far matched Warsaw in declarations of support for Ukraine and for EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of its neighbour, Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban – close to President Vladimir Putin – is
opposed.

“At some point, Meloni will have to choose between Poland and Hungary,” Varma predicted.

The Brothers of Italy leader is not expected to bend her position to match those of her junior coalition partners, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, who are friendlier to Moscow.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Meloni begins tricky government talks after election win

“Regarding foreign policy, as far as we know Meloni backs the sanctions against Russia and Brothers of Italy is closer to Poland’s PiS (governing party) than Hungary’s Fidesz,” said Hungarian analyst Patrik Szicherle.

Meloni has “sent the right messages on Ukraine,” said Martin Quencez of the German Marshall Fund, pointing out Italy’s critical relationship with the US as a reliable NATO ally.

Once elected prime minister, she “has every incentive to have good relations with Brussels, not to enter a pitched battle,” said Paolo Modugno, professor of Italian civilisation at Paris’ Sciences Po university.

Meloni “is very aware of the Italian public’s problems, their fear of inflation and the economic situation. What’s urgent for her is to manage the crisis, not to take ideological risks,” he added.

Analysts suggest that the incoming government’s choice of top ministers, especially in the finance and foreign ministries, will clearly signal how Meloni plans to position herself in Europe.

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