Migrant spat between France and Italy threatens first leadership meeting

Migrant spat between France and Italy threatens first leadership meeting

President Emmanuel Macron is expected to host newly-appointed Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte in Paris today for talks on EU integration

Macron conte meet

Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

President Emmanuel Macron is expected to host newly-appointed Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte in Paris today for talks on EU integration and migration plans.

Relations are strained after Italy’s refusal to accept a ship carrying 600 African migrants on Wednesday. Macron criticised Rome for its “cynical” move, and Conte implied Paris was hypocritical because of French refusals to accept migrants from Italy.

The lack of a united EU migration policy risks further incidents like Wednesday’s. Today, expect the leaders to agree to push a unified migrant policy at the EU Summit later this month.

Options for future EU policy include processing centres in Africa—as favoured by Denmark, Austria and, in the past, Macron. Another option is compensating Mediterranean countries forced to accept migrants, an option that could please Rome. However, Germany’s Angela Merkel believes all EU members should accept their fair share of migrants—in line with her open door policy since 2015. Though it is currently unclear which option will be pursued, Merkel’s is likely to be discarded as it is clashes with rising anti-immigrant sentiment throughout much of Europe.

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