Why Meloni-von der Leyen’s Strategy on Migrants is a Colossal Failure

This policy of “externalizing” migration controls amounts to directly supporting dictators to do the “dirty work” and becoming the coast guards of the EU in exchange for a disguised rent under the Mattei Plan program, without any consideration for the root causes of migration.

Italy, under the leadership of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, finds itself once again at the center of a major controversy, demonstrating the spectacular failure of its migration policy with fascist undertones. The recent arrival of over 1,500 undocumented migrants on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, located off the Tunisian coast, in just a day and a half, underscores the magnitude of the ongoing socio-economic and humanitarian crisis. This situation, far from being an isolated case, reveals the deep flaws in a short-term approach advocated by Meloni and funded by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, concerning the management of migration flows on the eve of the June European elections.

This policy of “externalizing” migration controls amounts to directly supporting dictators to do the “dirty work” and become the coast guards of the EU in exchange for a rent. This strategy, which involves making ad hoc migration agreements with authoritarian regimes in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, in hopes of containing the influx of migrants (and sending them a negative signal), is failing miserably. This approach is proving to be a colossal failure, not only from a humanitarian standpoint but also in terms of efficiency and management of European public funds.
Meloni’s visit to Tunis on Wednesday, April 17, with the aim of demanding the Tunisian government to halt the migrant flow at least until the European elections in early June, against a rent disguised as a program under the Mattei Plan (another Meloni farce), highlights the urgency and desperation of the EU facing this crisis. This move, although pragmatic, perfectly illustrates the deadlock in which Europe finds itself thanks to Meloni/von der Leyen: attempting to negotiate agreements with countries whose political and economic stability is precarious, while neglecting the root causes of migration.

The failure of the EU’s policy of externalizing migration controls only exacerbates an already critical crisis, highlighting the absence of a coherent, humane, and effective European migration policy. It is imperative that the EU rethink its approach, emphasizing the protection of human rights, international solidarity, and sustainable development, rather than repressive measures and precarious agreements. The migration crisis is not just a logistical or security challenge; it is primarily a humanitarian crisis that requires a complex and multidimensional response.

In the current context, the debate on migration in Europe is often polarized between two extremes, each with its own shortcomings and consequences for the lives of migrants and the diaspora in regular situations.

On one hand, there is the naivety and inaction of some factions of the left, which, although starting from an intention of openness and solidarity, can sometimes lead to a lack of coherent policy. This gap only worsens the situation of migrants, regularizing their status without offering sustainable or integrated solutions. The lack of targeted actions to effectively integrate migrants into host societies can make their daily life more complex, exacerbating challenges related to employment, education, and social integration. This approach, although well-intentioned, risks creating conditions conducive to marginalization, thus fueling discourse and exploitation by extremists and affecting those who are well-integrated.

On the other hand, the brutality and calls from the far right, for whom the end justifies the means, offer a reductionist and dangerous view of migration management. The policies advocated by these groups are often characterized by border closures, detention, and repulsion of migrants, under the pretext of protecting national identity and security. This approach, far from solving the problems, only worsens the humanitarian crisis, violates human rights, and ignores the root causes of migration, such as conflicts, poverty, and climate change.

Faced with these extremes, the European Union stands at a crossroads. To move forward, it must develop a balanced and pragmatic migration policy, which recognizes both the need to protect migrants’ rights and the security of European citizens. Such a policy should include joint European measures to strengthen cooperation with origin and transit countries, in order to limit irregular migration flows while opening legal avenues for immigration. This requires constructive dialogue and cooperation agreements that go beyond simple financial aid, to address the root causes of migration: improving living conditions, creating economic opportunities, and supporting political and social reforms.
In the face of Russian aggression, the European Union must strengthen its security position and prepare for the transition to a war economy. Effective and strategic management of migration is essential in this context, as it meets the crucial needs for labor in key sectors such as agriculture, industry, services, and even the armed forces. Migrants not only provide the necessary labor to support these vital industries but also help maintain Europe’s economic competitiveness and defense capability.

Investing in the integration of regular migrants is therefore essential. Facilitating their access to education, training, the labor market, and social services will allow effective social inclusion, essential for internal cohesion and stability during periods of geopolitical tension. This rapid and effective integration maximizes not only their economic contribution but also strengthens long-term social resilience.

Furthermore, a proactive migration policy should be seen as a pillar of the EU’s national and economic security strategy. It should not only compensate for demographic decline but also increase economic production in times of crisis. A visionary European migration policy should therefore treat migration as a strategic opportunity to energize cultural diversity, economic growth, and social cohesion, thereby transforming migration challenges into advantages to strengthen the Union’s security and economic posture.

Therefore, it is imperative that the EU reconfigures its perception and management of migration, not as a threat but as a crucial lever in its arsenal for preparing for a war economy and national resilience. This approach will not only strengthen economic security but also Europe’s global stability in an uncertain international context.

Article written by Ghazi Ben Ahmed and translated from Italian by Le Huffington Post Italia, on 13 April 2024

Ghazi Ben Ahmed

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