EcoRéseau Business – The boat that shakes Europe

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Geoffrey Wetzel,
journalist-department manager

Ocean Viking, with more than 230 migrants picked up by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, docked in Toulon on Friday 11 November… After the refusal of Giorgia Meloni – President of Italy’s Council of Ministers – to welcome these exhausted men, women and children. In short, this boat proves the extent to which Europe is incapable of any coordination. At least when it comes to migrants.

How is it possible that two countries, historically and geographically linked, two neighbors in the heart of Europe, are torn apart in this way, by ministers, in a tragic humanitarian episode? “It is on an extraordinary basis that we welcome this boat, considering the fifteen days of waiting at sea to which the Italian authorities have subjected the passengers”, first launched Gérald Darmanin, “an incomprehensible choice” from Italy, “which thus takes the side of not behaving like a responsible European state”, continued the Minister of the Interior. It was enough for Giorgia Meloni to step up to the plate: “The aggressive reaction of the French government is incomprehensible and unjustified”, replies the head of the Italian government in Paris.

On arrival, in this Franco-Italian struggle, it was indeed Emmanuel Macron’s France that caved. And she was probably right. Because before the landing of the humanitarian ship in Toulon, the Ocean Viking had suffered the refusal of the Italian authorities, three weeks of wandering and trials for the 234 migrants on board – including 57 children – and waited for, what European soil would like to regard them with. , at least a little, dignity. France has saved the honor of a Europe, and above all an Italy, which is determined to send a strong message in terms of tightening the reception of immigrants. The Meloni effect perhaps, and more generally the progressive extreme right on the continent for several years. Just look at the RN reactions after Emmanuel Macron’s decision…

So France saved the honor, yes. But from there to qualify it as a Good Samaritan? Our country took time to decide. And for lack of anything better, she ended up accepting the Ocean Viking landing on her land. A situational humanism, exceptional, by default. The same humanism that Emmanuel Macron lacked in 2018 then Aquarius, the other red-hulled boat, called for a safe harbor to ease the journey of hundreds of migrants. “Humanism is not a good feeling […] If I followed this path, it would tilt the country towards extremes”, launched the President of the Republic four years ago. A self-confident humanist does not think of the consequences, does not foresee a breakthrough of the extremes and forgets the calculations when a boat of human life in perdition begs to be welcomed.

It would be too simple to dismiss Italian cynicism alone. Because obviously not all European countries are affected in the same way by these last ships. Meloni recalled that his country had received 90,000 migrants this year, much more than in 2021 (just under 70,000, RFI). Italy is at the forefront of arrivals from Libya. Like Greece, Cyprus and Malta. The interior ministers of these four countries did not fail to bear in mind the fragility of the voluntary solidarity mechanism. Who counted in June with a goal of moving 10,000 people in the first year to other countries (voluntary, and France is one of them) than those who were at the first entry. And according to these four states, the contract, while there is little time left, is light years from being fulfilled. So let the countries that have accepted this mechanism also take their responsibility… to prevent Italy from continuing to welcome all the misery in the world!

In short, “something is not working” in Europe’s handling of migrants, defended Georgia Meloni, finally a flight we can all agree on. While Europe should come together and find solidarity within itself, in protest France has decided to suspend “with immediate effect” the planned reception this summer on 3,500 refugees currently in Italy. Certainly, in France the unexpected reception of this Ocean Viking, which its Italian neighbor should have received, really does not pass. What will happen to these petty settlements between European states when it comes to dealing with the massive arrivals of climate migrants in the future… Europe, where are you?

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