Maybe the advent of this new government in Italy can be the push Europe needs to really get to work on better and fairer migration policies.
A NEW ITALIAN GOVERNMENT
The arrival of a new, eurosceptic Italian government seemed to threaten the European unity again. Associate Professor of European integration Femke van Esch expects that in the short term, it is especially the migration issue that will become a problem. She believes that the political change in Italy will result in new policy, and is optimistic about the future of Europe.
“Historically speaking, the Italians are quite pro-European,” Femke van Esch says, “and even though the Five Star Movement was originally sceptic about the EU and against the euro, they have since altered their course somewhat. Now that they are in the government, they want to keep the euro. But you can't just say that, there are obligations attached to that. They have also said at the same time that they don't want to reduce budget deficits and thus the debt burden, or reduce them less. These are two things that don't line up.”
Still, Femke van Esch does not think the economic politics of Italy will become the main problem. She believes the refugee issue will become a much more important matter. “Specifically: the Lega party's stance on migration. Italy's decision to not let the refugees on the Aquarius enter any Italian port has already resulted in a fierce discussion. They were eventually taken in by Spain and the French president was among those who expressed their outrage on Italy.”
A FAIRER AND BETTER MIGRATION POLICY
“The Italian government has (like other Italian governments) indicated that part of the problem is in the European law on this issue. The first country that people enter has to take care of the registration and processing of all asylum applications. In fact, it's also illegal to travel further into Europe and this has since become impossible because some countries have closed their borders for that purpose - deviating from the original European policy in the process. For instance, the French border is now closed as well. I think Italy is correct in their indication that this is unfair policy. By factually closing the borders ourselves like we are doing now, our problems can shift.
That can go in two directions. On the one hand, it can result in big conflicts over European law. On the other hand, I think many people agree that those rules are unfair and do not work. For a long time already, there has been pressure to change that. Maybe the advent of this new government in Italy can be the push Europe needs to really get to work on better and fairer migration policies.”