Gérald Darmanin at the end of the Council of Ministers, in Paris, April 26, 2023. CYRIL BITTON / DIVERGENCE FOR “THE WORLD”
Once again, the migration issue is poisoning the Franco-Italian relationship, which has already been damaged on several occasions since the coming to power of the president of the council, Giorgia Meloni. On Thursday May 4, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced the cancellation of a meeting scheduled for the evening in Paris with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, former French ambassador to Rome.
He was reacting to remarks deemed “unacceptable” made the same morning about the Italian government by Gérald Darmanin on the set of the RMC program “Les Grandes Gueules”. The French Minister of the Interior indeed chose the day of the bilateral meeting between Mr. Tajani and Ms. Colonna to accuse Giorgia Meloni of having shown herself “incapable of resolving the migratory problems” on which she had campaigned. “Minister Gérald Darmanin’s offenses towards Italy are unacceptable. It is not with this spirit that we must face the common European challenges, ”replied in the afternoon on Twitter Mr. Tajani, of whom it is not known whether the visit to France will be rescheduled.
“Meloni is like Le Pen, she got elected on ‘you’re going to see what you’re going to see’ and then what we see is that it doesn’t stop and it gets bigger”, also declared Mr. Darmanin, the considerations of internal policy thus taking precedence again on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. On the French side, the parallels between Marine Le Pen and Giorgia Meloni seem to dominate the preoccupations of an executive professing a discourse of firmness on the immigration file in the face of the far right. On the Italian side, Giorgia Meloni is for her part pushed to further harden her position on the question so as not to be in competition with the League. A sometimes unruly coalition partner, Matteo Salvini’s party has indeed built its political identity on an excessively anti-immigrant position.
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However, in both countries, with the approach of summer, which is more conducive to crossings, the internal tension around the migration file is pushed to the extreme by the intensification of migratory flows towards the south of Italy, which affects the French borders. 42,400 migrants have thus landed on the Italian coasts since the beginning of the year compared to 11,200 in 2022, during the same period. In Italy, the government, which is struggling to manage this situation, has declared a state of migratory emergency, while in France the government is reacting to an outbidding on the right. During the presentation of the roadmap for her “hundred days”, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, announced the formation of a “border force” coordinating police, customs and military.
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