EU polarisation over migration

If the European Union’s June summit is any indication, anti-migration pressure is not leading to actionable formulas in Europe.
Sunday 02/09/2018
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (R) and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after their meeting in Milan, on August 28. (AP)
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (R) and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after their meeting in Milan, on August 28. (AP)

The agreement announced by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to pursue a hard-line course against migration in Europe is not reassuring.

Their deal could be a sign of unhelpful polarisation as the European Union prepares for elections to the European parliament.

“There are currently two camps in Europe and one is headed by (French President Emmanuel) Macron,” said Orban after talks with Salvini in Milan.

The Italian leader accused Macron of being “the head of the political forces supporting immigration” and described himself as working “to stop immigration” as part of a right-wing alliance with the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria.

This Hungarian-Italian entente could be a harbinger of a further hard-line shift in political balances preceding EU elections and lead to further intolerance towards Arab and Muslim communities. Salvini’s right-wing League party is already an ally of France’s far right National Front.

Besides provoking tensions within the European Union, the likely pre-electoral polarisation will not improve the odds for a sustainable solution to the migration issue.

If the European Union’s June summit is any indication, anti-migration pressure is not leading to actionable formulas in Europe. The decision to establish “disembarkation platforms” to keep migrants outside the European Union is not finding any takers in North Africa.

The European Union needs to engage in a comprehensive discussion of the deep roots of migration and long-term solutions for the problem, not just try to build new barriers on land and at sea.

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